Rare Matte and Burnished Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock “Cupid’s Chariot”, Empire period
Case Attributed to Bronze Caster Jean-Simon Deverberie
Rare Matte and Burnished Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock “Cupid’s Chariot”
Paris, Empire period, circa 1810-1815
Height 39 cm; width 47.8 cm; depth 13.8cm
Yves and Marcel Gay, and André Lemaire, “Les pendules au char”, in Bulletin de l’Association nationale des collectionneurs et amateurs d’horlogerie ancienne, 1993, n° 66, pp. 4-44.
The round enamel dial, signed “Deprest à Montpellier”, indicates the Roman numeral hours and fifteen-minute intervals by means of two blued steel Breguet hands. It is set in the wheel of a chariot drawn by two spirited horses with enamel eyes. The movement is housed in a drum case that forms the body of the chariot, with a magnificent fire-breathing dragon making up its back portion, the front being composed of a shell on which Cupid stands. The young god has enamel eyes; he is clad in light drapery that is slung across one shoulder. He brandishes a flaming torch in his right hand and holds the reins in his left. The rectangular base with sloping molding is decorated with motifs of ribbon-tied crossed torches and quivers of arrows on either side, with a central motif of stylized fronds centered by a fluted urn flanked by putti. The clock is raised upon four lion paw feet.
The high quality of the present clock’s chasing and gilding and its unusual design are typical of the work of bronze caster Jean-Simon Deverberie, the extremely talented Parisian artisan who created the clock during the First Empire. Only a few similar examples are known. One of these, identical to the present clock, bears Deverberie’s signature as well as that of the enameler Dubuisson (see Bulletin ANCAHA, op. cit, p. 22, fig. 25). Another identical clock is in the Musée François Duesberg in Mons (see Musée François Duesberg, Arts décoratifs 1775-1825, Brussels, 2004, p. 38). Several similar clocks are known, which feature variations in the treatment of their bases. One is in the Andrès de Ribera Foundation in Jerez de la Frontera (see Catalogo ilustrado del Museo de Relojes, 1982, p. 91); a second example is illustrated in the exhibition catalogue French Clocks from the Age of Napoleon, Phoenix Art Museum, 1998-1999, p. 19. A third similar clock is in the Royal Spanish Collection (shown in J. Ramon Colon de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio nacional, Madrid, 1987, p. 146, catalogue n° 123).
Jean-Simon Deverberie (1764-1824) was an extremely successful designer, bronze manufacturer and marchand-mercier. Until 1800 he was recorded in the rue Barbette; four years later he was at Boulevard du Temple and from 1812 until 1824 his business Deverberie & Compagnie was based at rue des Fosses-du-Temple. Deverberie was the most important artists of his time to create a series of bronzes and almost certainly the first to make a clock case celebrating the theme of the “noble savage”.