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La Pendulerie

Rare Gilt Bronze and Rouge Griotte Marble Mantel Clock “The Sacrifice to Love”, Louis XVI period

Thomire

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à Lamiral
Enamel Dial by Joseph Coteau (1740-1812)
Case Attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843)
Rare Gilt Bronze and Rouge Griotte Marble Mantel Clock
“The Sacrifice to Love”
Paris, late Louis XVI period, circa 1790
Height 46 cm; width 43 cm; depth 13.5 cm

Provenance: The round enamel dial, adorned with polychrome motifs, is signed “Lamiral à Paris”; it indicates the hours in Roman numerals and the fifteen-minute intervals in Arabic numerals, by means of two pierced gilt bronze hands. The date is indicated by a blued steel hand. The superb case is of finely chased gilt bronze and Italian red griotte marble. The movement is housed in a case modelled as an antique temple, supported by four griffons and adorned with ram’s heads in the upper corners. Surmounting the clock, a flaming brazier rests upon a moulded terrace decorated with a finely fluted motif. On either side of the altar stand two priestesses in long antique palla; one, with outstretched hands, is playing the trumpet; the other holds a bird in her hands as she prepares to offer it as a sacrifice. The whole rests upon a red griotte Italian marble base with diagonally fluted sides; it is richly ornamented with chased gilt bronze mounts, trophies of arms and ewers and three beribboned flower wreaths linked by bird-inhabited branches. The base rests upon a white statuary marble plinth and is raised upon eight finely gadrooned toupie feet.

The unusual design of this clock, and in particular the flaming altar supported by griffons, is inspired by preparatory drawings done by several Parisian designers of the late 18th century, and notably a drawing by Jean-Démosthène Dugourc (1749-1825) representing a plan for andirons in the form of griffons with a flaming altar. The piece was intended for the Count de Provence, brother of Louis XVI (sold in Paris, Me Renaud, Hôtel Drouot, June 3, 1988, lot 85). The rarity of the model and the quality of its chasing and gilding allow it to be attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire. Thomire created several other clocks based on the theme—quite rare—of priestesses or vestals. Among these, one example was delivered by Robin in 1788 to Marie-Antoinette’s Cabinet des Bains in the Tuileries Palace; it is today in the Paris Musée des Arts décoratifs (illustrated in P. Verlet, Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1999, p. 326); a second example is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Paris, 1997, p. 336.
Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1757-1853) was the most important Parisian bronzier of the last quarter of the 18th century and the first decades of the following century. Early on in his career he worked for Pierre Gouthière, ciseleur-fondeur du roi, and toward the mid-1770’s began working with Louis Prieur. He later became one of the bronziers attached to the Manufacture Royale de Sèvres, creating the bronze mounts for most of the important creations of the day. After the Revolution, he purchased the stock of Martin-Eloi Lignereux, thus becoming the most important suppliers of furniture bronzes for châteaux and Imperial Palaces. In addition, he worked for a wealthy private clientele, both French and foreign, including several of Napoleon’s Marshals. Thomire retired in 1823.

Joseph Coteau (1740-1801) came from Geneva but worked in Paris, where he was established in the rue Poupée, St. André des Arts ; he became a maître in 1778. In 1780 he was appointed Peintre-émailleur du roi et de la Manufacture Royale de Porcelaine de Sèvres ; over the next few years he did piece-work there while working as an independent painter in Paris, specializing in enamel watchcases and clock dials. By 1784 he was no longer working for Sèvres and continued to supply fine dials, plaques and enamel cases to important Parisian clockmakers.

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