Exceptional Mutli-dial automaton skeleton clock
François-Joseph Hartmann or Hartemann (active circa 1793-1830) François-Joseph Hartmann, who was very likely of Swiss descent, holds a special place in Parisian horology. His last name, which is quite rare in Paris, does however appear in a few notarized documents from the late 18th century and the early 19th century, including the July 1790 death certificate of Henriette Hartmann, daughter of the Bernese merchant Jean-Rodolphe Hartmann and Marguerite Wagner (Archives nationales, Minutier Central des notaires, Etude XLVII/432). The probate inventory of cabinetmaker Jean-Georges Hartmann was drawn up in Paris several years later (Archives nationales, Minutier Central des notaires, Etude LXXXVII/1423/A). The clockmaker himself is rarely mentioned in contemporary documents. The first time he appears is in a six-year and three month sublease rental contract for lodgings including a shop, a back room, a bedroom and a basement, which was signed by Edme-Pierre Seguin and François-Joseph Hartemann, clockmaker, and his wife Marie-Louise Guitarde, who were then living in the rue de Vannes (MC/ET/IX/843, 27 vendémiaire an II). Some twenty years later, his name appeared in a contract dated July 23, 1814, recording the sale of a hôtel garni at 54, rue Neuve Saint-Eustache, for the sum of 9500 francs. In it he was described as the “propriétaire” (owner), suggesting he had temporarily ceased his activity as a clockmaker (MC/ET/IV/1033). The weddings of his two children, Louise-Thérèse and Jean-François, took place on November 5, 1825 in the Saint-Eustache parish, and on September 27, 1832 in the Bonne Nouvelle quarter, respectively. Around 1820, after the restoration of the monarchy, Hartmann once again opened a workshop at 25, rue du Grand-Hurleur, again working as a clockmaker. He was mentioned in the Bulletin de la Société d’encouragement pour l’industrie nationale during their general meeting of April 27, 1825 as having made “Two very fine gilt bronze clocks, with several dials, indicating the seconds, date, and the positions of the stars …”. The following year, he was mentioned in the “General alphabetical list of the members of the Société d’encouragement pour l’industrie nationale on January 1st, 1826 followed by that of its foreign correspondents”. In 1827, the 10th volume of the “British Review or choice of articles translated from the best periodicals of Great Britain” mentioned at length his book “Le Tems vrai et le Tems moyen”, which discussed the causes of the apparent irregularity of watches and clocks based on solar time. His career may be divided into two periods, first from 1793 to 1813, and then from 1820 to 1830, the first period being the most remarkable. During those twenty or so years, he designed movements with complications that were housed in unusual and often unique cases that resulted from his collaboration with the finest contemporary Parisian artisans. Among the rare known examples of his work, one example with an architectural case featuring lictors’ fasces and Masonic emblems is illustrated in J-D. Augarde, Les ouvriers du Temps, La pendule à Paris de Louis XIV à Napoléon Ier, p. 78, fig. 48. A second clock, with five dials and allegorical figures, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age à nos jours, Paris, 1997, p. 400.