Allegories of Sculpture and Architecture Mantel Clock, Louis XVI period
Robert Osmond and Pierre Edelinne
Rare Chased and Gilt Bronze Neo-classical Mantel Clock
Paris, early Louis XVI period, circa 1775
Height 67 cm; width 43 cm; depth 26 cm
The enamel dial, signed Edelinne à Paris, indicates the hours in Roman numerals and the minutes in Arabic numerals. The very finely chased gilt bronze architectural case is signed Osmond. The neo-classical decorative motifs are inspired by antiquity: pilasters topped by gadrooned capitals which in turn are surmounted by oil lamps, scrolling acanthus leaves, laurel leaf garlands, a gadrooned antique style vase adorned by a trailing garland, and a frieze of interlocking rosettes. The case is flanked by two putti holding the attributes of Sculpture and Architecture. The base is richly decorated with Greek key and wave friezes, rosettes and acanthus leaves.
This clock’s elegant and elaborately decorated case was created by Robert Osmond, the talented bronzier who created this model in the early 1770’s, and who is known for the exceptional clock cases he supplied to the finest Parisian clockmakers of his day. Remarkably, the preparatory drawing has survived and is in the collection of the Institut national d’Histoire de l’Art à Paris, formerly the Bibliothèque Jacques Doucet (illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Volume 1, Munich, 1986, p. 176, fig. 3.6.3); the drawing even includes the dial’s measurements. To the best of our knowledge, only one identical example is known; it was included in the sale of the collections of William, the 12th Duke of Hamilton in Hamilton Palace (Christie, Manson & Woods, June 17 to July 20, 1882, lot 292).
Pierre Edelinne (1727-1777), (also Edelyne), was one of the foremost Parisian clockmakers of the latter part of the 18th century. After serving his apprenticeship from 1747 to 1754, he received his lettres de maîtrise in December 1757 and opened his own workshop. He is recorded in the rue de Harlay from 1765 to 1767; after his death, his widow continued running the workshop for several years. His clocks are rarely mentioned in contemporary documents, however a clock bearing his signature was described in 1787 in the posthumous inventory of the belongings of Maximilien-Léopold-Philippe-Joseph Gardel (1741-1787), a composer of the Académie royale de musique.
Robert Osmond (1711- 1789)
Jean-Baptiste Osmond (1742-after 1790)
French bronze-caster Robert Osmond was born in Canisy, near Saint-Lô; he began his apprenticeship in the workshop of Louis Regnard, maître fondeur en terre et en sable, and became a master bronzier in Paris in 1746. He is recorded as working in the rue des Canettes in the St Sulpice parish, moving to the rue de Mâcon in 1761. Robert Osmond became a juré, thus gaining a certain degree of protection of his creative rights. In 1753, he sent for his nephew in Normandy, and in 1761, the workshop, which by that time had grown considerably, moved to the rue de Macon. The nephew, Jean-Baptiste Osmond (1742-after 1790) became a master in 1764 and as of that date worked closely with his uncle, to such a degree that it is difficult to differentiate between the contributions of each.
Robert appears to have retired around 1775. Jean-Baptiste, who remained in charge of the workshop after the retirement of his uncle, encountered difficulties and went bankrupt in 1784. Robert Osmond died in 1789.
Prolific bronze casters and chasers, the Osmonds worked with equal success in both the Louis XV and the Neo-classical styles. Prized by connoisseurs of the period, their work was distributed by clockmakers and marchands-merciers. Although they made all types of furnishing objects, including fire dogs, wall lights and inkstands, the only extant works by them are clocks, including one depicting the Rape of Europe (Getty Museum, California) in the Louis XV style and two important Neo-classical forms, of which there are several examples, as well as a vase with lions' heads (Musée Condé, Chantilly and the Cleveland Museum of Art) and a cartel-clock with chased ribbons (examples in the Stockholm Nationalmuseum; Paris, Nissim de Camondo Museum). A remarkable clock decorated with a globe, cupids and a Sèvres porcelain plaque (Paris, Louvre) is another of their notable works.
Specialising at first in the rocaille style, in the early 1760’s they turned to the new Neo-classical style and soon numbered among its greatest practitioners. They furnished cases to the best clockmakers of the period, such as Montjoye, for whom they made cases for cartonnier and column clocks, the column being one of the favourite motifs of the Osmond workshop.