Important Metal Marquetry Cartel and Bracket Clock, Louis XIV period

Julien Le Roy

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Julien II Leroy
Important Metal Marquetry Cartel and Bracket Clock
Paris, late Louis XIV period, circa 1710-1715
Height 108.5 cm; width 36.5cm; depth 16.5 cm

The copper dial, signed Julien Leroy à Paris, features thirteen enamel cartouches indicating the hours and minutes in Roman numerals by means of two blued steel hands. The façade of the waisted chased gilt bronze case is decorated with lattice motifs centred by flowerets, acanthus leaf swags, leaf garlands, and a mask with a shell headdress, as well as flowerets and rosettes. The clock is surmounted by a winged putto who rests on a patterned cushion. The sides of the cartel are adorned with elegant metal marquetry panels of the type known as “marqueterie Boulle première partie”, featuring incrustations of copper against a tortoiseshell ground, in the form of scrolling foliage, with, on either side, a lion’s head that is holding a leafy swag in its mouth. The cartel rests on a bracket adorned with wave motifs; its two supporting columns terminate in scrolling and acanthus leaves and seeds. In the central portion, a beribboned trophy made up of a quiver and flaming torch is surmounted by an oval medallion adorned with leafy garlands and centred by a woman’s profile, set against a tortoiseshell ground.

This large and unusual wall cartel is inspired by the work of several important designers of the late Louis XIV period, particularly Jean I Bérain and Gilles-Marie Oppenord. At present the model cannot be attributed to any particular cabinetmaker; attempts to link it with the workshops of André-Charles Boulle and Charles Cressent have been rejected by specialists, and thus this spectacular model remains anonymous. A few rare identical cartels are known today, most of them signed by the clockmakers Thuret and Mynuel. Among them, an example lacking its wall bracket is illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Munich, 1986, p. 78; a second, which formerly belonged to M. Bichoffsheim, was displayed in the Musée des arts décoratifs in Paris (see A. de Champeaux, Portefeuille des arts décoratifs, Paris, 1888-1889, plate 159); a third clock is in the collection of the Princes of Hesse in the Fasanerie Castle in Fulda; another such clock is pictured in Tardy, La pendule française, Ier Partie, de l’horloge gothique à la pendule Louis XV, Paris, 1975, p. 145.

Julien Le Roy (1686-1759)
Born in Tours, he trained under his father Pierre Le Roy; by the age of thirteen had already made his own clock. In 1699 Julien Le Roy went to Paris where he served his apprenticeship under Le Bon. Received as a maître-horloger in 1713, he later became a juré of his guild; he was also juré of the Société des Arts from 1735 to 1737. In 1739 he was made Horloger Ordinaire du Roi to Louis XV. He was given lodgings in the Louvre but did not occupy them, instead giving them to his son Pierre (1717-85) while continuing to operate his own business from rue de Harlay. Le Roy made important innovations, including the improvement of monumental clocks indicating both mean and true time. Le Roy researched equation movements and advanced pull repeat mechanisms. He adopted George Graham’s cylinder, allowing the construction of thinner watches. He chose his clock cases from the finest makers, including the Caffiéris, André-Charles Boulle, Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, Robert Osmond, Balthazar Lieutaud, Antoine Foullet and others; his dials were often made by Antoine-Nicolas Martinière, Nicolas Jullien and possibly Elie Barbezat. Le Roy significantly raised the standards of Parisian clockmaking. After he befriended British clockmakers Henry Sully and William Blakey, several excellent English and Dutch makers were introduced into Parisian workshops.

Julien Le Roy’s work can be found among the world’s greatest collections including the Musées du Louvre, Cognacq-Jay, Jacquemart-André and the Petit Palais in Paris. Other examples are housed in the Château de Versailles, the Victoria and Albert Museum and Guildhall in London, Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, the Musée d’Horlogerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the Museum der Zeitmessung Bayer, Zurich, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire in Brussels, the Museum für Kunsthandwerck, Dresden, the National Museum in Stockholm, the Musea Nacional de Arte Antigua, Lisbon, the J. P. Getty Museum in California; the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore and the Detroit Institute of Art.

Object Name: Important Metal Marquetry Cartel and Bracket Clock, Louis XIV period
Artist name: Julien Le Roy
Reference: C015
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