Bronze Mantel Clock “The Temple of Love”, Directoire period

Jean-Simon Deverberie

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Case Attributed to Jean-Simon Deverberie (1764 - 1824)
Rare Chased and Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock “The Temple of Love”
Paris, Directoire period, circa 1795
Height 51 cm; diameter 23 cm

The enamel dial indicates the hours in Roman numerals and the minutes, in fifteen-minute graduations, by means of two gilt bronze hands. The architectural case, modelled as an antique temple, is of finely chased gilt bronze. The bezel is highlighted by a row of blue glass roundels. The movement is fitted into a two-lobed case resembling a heart. The two lobes of the heart feature low relief butterflies; the case is surmounted by a flame emerging from a row of flowerets. The pediment of the rotunda-shaped temple, also highlighted by a row of blue glass roundels, some of which are also decorated with gilt star motifs, is surmounted by a frieze depicting Cupids engaged in various activities. The temple’s six tapering fluted columns are formed as quivers, with feathers in their upper portions and finely chased bases. In its centre, a winged Cupid holds a flaming torch and a bow. He is seated on a truncated column highlighted by a row of beads. The round plinth adorned with a leaf frieze is raised on eagle feet with finely chased feathers and claws. A moulded circular turquin blue marble base completes the composition.

This unusual clock is among the finest created in the last decade of the 18th century. Its design shows the influence of the late 18th century “temple” clocks; these were often “cercles tournants” clocks with four columns. They were made during the last third of the 18th century, by some of the greatest Parisian clockmakers of the day. Several such clocks are illustrated in E. Niehüser, Die Französische Bronzeuhr, Eine Typologie der figürlichen Darstellungen, Munich, 1997, p. 254; a white marble model with six columns, in the Royal Spanish Collections, is illustrated in J. Ramon Colon de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio nacional, Madrid, 1987, p. 90, catalogue n° 73; another Temple clock, with Oriental motifs, is in the Royal English Collections (Inv. RCIN 39660). These horological creations, often evoking Love and its transient nature, were inspired by one of the most famous edifices of the time: the “Temple of Love”, constructed at Versailles in the gardens of the Petit Trianon by Richard Mique in 1778 for Marie-Antoinette, was greatly admired by connoisseurs and artists of the day.

While the present example features the classical rotunda construction, it differs from other similar clocks of the type due to its elaborate composition and to the heart-shaped case into which the dial is fitted. In this it is typical of the horological creations of the Directoire period, which embody the ornamental codes of the Ancien Régime, while its elaborate design heralded the opulent style of the Empire period. It should be emphasized that this model is exceptionally rare; to the best of our knowledge only one other identical clock is recorded. Its dial is signed Leroy à Paris and it is today in a private collection (shown in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Paris, 1997, p. 332).
Jean-Simon Deverberie (1764-1824) was an extremely successful designer, bronze manufacturer and marchand-mercier. Until 1800 he was recorded in the rue Barbette; four years later he was at Boulevard du Temple and from 1812 until 1824 his business Deverberie & Compagnie was based at rue des Fosses-du-Temple. Deverberie was the most important artists of his time to create a series of bronzes and almost certainly the first to make a clock case celebrating the theme of the “noble savage”.

Object Name: Bronze Mantel Clock “The Temple of Love”, Directoire period
Artist name: Jean-Simon Deverberie
Reference: P053
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