Allegory of Spring Mantel Clock, Louis XVI period
Xavier Gide (1737- after 1789),
reçu maître horloger parisien le 27 septembre 1762
Rare Gilt Bronze and White Marble Mantel Clock "Allegory of Spring"
Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1775-1780
Height 58 cm; width 34.5 cm; depth 20 cm
The enamel dial, signed Gide à Paris, features Roman hour numerals, Arabic minutes and the date; it is fitted in a delicately fluted white marble column which rests on a square plinth with a finely chiselled gilt bronze plaque depicting astronomer cupids; the bezel is decorated with a stylised frieze. The clock is surmounted by a flower vase from whose handles hang garlands of flowers and roses that are grasped by two elegant classically-robed young women on either side of the dial; they represent allegories of the Spring. The stepped base features a decorative trophy with a leaf garland and a lyre; the lower portion of the base is adorned with a leaf frieze.
The elegant design of this clock, and in particular its two graceful female figures, appear to have been inspired by the work of eminent contemporary Parisian sculptors such as Etienne-Maurice Falconet (1716-1791), who often used allegorical representations (see the exhibition catalogue "Falconet à Sèvres ou l’art de plaire 1757-1766", RMN, Paris, 2001). Only a few such clocks are known today, all presenting variations. One, whose dial is signed Lepaute, is illustrated in Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème Partie: du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1975, p. 257; a second, with dial signed Guydamour à Paris, was featured in the 1900 catalogue of the Exposition rétrospective de l’Art français des origines à 1800 (published by the Librairie des Beaux-Arts under the direction of Emile Molinier); a third, with dial signed Charles Dutertre à Paris, is in Paris’ Nissim de Camondo Museum, where it is displayed on the mantel of the Count de Camondo’s Petit bureau de travail (illustrated in S. Legrand-Rossi, Le mobilier du musée Nissim de Camondo, Editions Faton, Dijon, 2012, p. 27).
Xavier Gide, a Parisian clockmaker who served his apprenticeship under François Gervais and Pierre de Monchanin. Made a master in 1762, his workshop was in the rue Saint-Louis from 1762 to 1787, and as of 1788, in the Quai de l’Horloge. Particularly renowned for his watchcases, he also made complete watches, as well as a few clocks, all of which testify to his remarkable skill. A partner of Breguet from 1775 to 1791, he was widely reputed and regularly worked with horologists such as Gustave-Adolphe Adamson, Pierre III Le Roy and Jacques-Pierre-Thomas Bréant. Today his work is found in large international museums, including the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Louvre Museum in Paris, and the Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon in Dresden.