Sacrifice to Faithful Love Mantel Clock, Louis XVI period
Important Gilt and Patinated Bronze and White Marble Mantel Clock
Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1785
Height 52.5 cm; width 48 cm; depth 15.3 cm
The enamel dial, signed Détour à Paris, indicates the hours, minutes and date in Arabic numerals; the white statuary marble case is richly adorned with finely chased gilt bronze mounts. The bezel is surmounted by two ribbon-tied flower and leaf branches; in the lower portion a shaped bas-relief scene represents an antique-style sacrifice, executed in the style of Clodion; the case is further ornamented with clouds and stylised leaf friezes, as well as ribbon-tied laurel leaf toruses. At the summit a little patinated bronze dog, symbol of Faithful Love, is lying on a cushion, surmounted by a chased bronze winged Cupid. To the side, a young child standing before a flaming quiver plays an aulos; opposite him, a beautiful vestal virgin crowned with a flower wreath, near a gilt bronze tripod athenienne with lion’s paws and heads and a turquin blue marble basin surmounted by a flame, is making a sacrifice. The rectangular white marble base is highlighted by gilt bronze beadwork and leaf friezes punctuated by flowerets; it rests on flattened gilt bronze bun feet.
The elegant design of this clock places it among the finest Parisian allegorical horological creations of the end of the Ancien Régime. It is freely inspired by fine sculptural works of the time, among them the vestal figures appearing on pieces by Chinard, Marin, and Claude Michel, known as Clodion (1738-1814) (c.f. a terra cotta in the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, and a marble figure in the Washington National Gallery of Art, illustrated respectively in the catalogue of the Clodion (1738-1814) exhibition, Louvre, Paris, March 17 – June 29, 1992, RMN, p. 26). A comparable clock, representing “The Sacrifice to Love”, with figures attributed to Joseph-Charles Marin, is illustrated in J-D. Augarde, Les ouvriers du Temps, Genève, 1996, p. 165, fig. 131.
Jacques-Auguste Détour (born May 16, 1759), one of the finest Parisian clockmakers of the last quarter of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. The son of Jean Détour, burgher of Paris, and Marie-Catherine Guillon, he served eight years of apprenticeship in the workshop of Antoine Cronier in February 1776. While not always mentioned in horological encyclopedias and dictionaries, he nevertheless enjoyed a brilliant career; the most important collectors possessed examples of his work. Clocks made by Détour are listed in the early 19th century probate inventories of Mlle de Belleforières de Soyecourt, the wife of Emmanuel-Dieudonné comte de la Tour en Woere, and Xavier-Pierre Dedelay de Blancmesnil.