Important White Marble and Gilt Bronze Sphinx Mantel Clock The Sacrifice to Love, Louis XVI period
Call +33 1 45 61 44 55
The Movement Attributed to Joseph-Marie Revel
The Bronzes Attributed to François Rémond
Important White Marble and Gilt Bronze Sphinx Mantel Clock
The Sacrifice to Love
Paris, late Louis XVI period, circa 1785-1790
Height 51.5 cm; width 30.5cm; depth 16 cm
The blue and gold enamel semi-circular dial apertures indicate the Roman numeral hours and Arabic numeral minutes; the movement is housed in a white marble and finely chased gilt bronze case. The clock is surmounted by two winged sphinxes that are wearing plumed nemes headdresses, on either side of a baluster vase that rests on a gilt bronze leg and is adorned with beadwork and a flower and leaf crown and bouquet. The clock is set upon a truncated pyramid that is decorated with flower and leaf garlands, sunflowers, and a central allegorical bas-relief representing “The Sacrifice to Love”. The square moulded base, adorned with laurel garlands decorated with lyres and centred by a mask, is raised upon four large lion’s feet that emerge from scrolling and acanthus leaves.
An early example of the Egyptomania that reigned in France during the reign of Louis XVI, this clock is one of the finest Parisian horological creations of its time. It is inspired by the work of contemporary designers, and particularly an engraving by Jean-François Forty which is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Paris, 1997, p. 173, fig. C, as well as by a drawing by architect François-Joseph Bélanger (1744-1818) which depicts a clock that was delivered in 1781 for the Count d’Artois’s Salon in the Bagatelle pavilion; an “Artois model” clock is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (see H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 280, fig. 4.13.4). The present clock stands out for the quality of its chasing, which supports its attribution to François Rémond. It is also unusual for the seated position of the sphinxes, a position that is found on the other rare similar examples of the period. One of these was made by Godon for the King of Spain, which is in the Royal Spanish Collections (illustrated in J. Ramon Colon de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio nacional, Madrid, 1987, p. 77, catalogue n° 61). Only three other identical clocks are known to exist: the first, sold at auction in Paris in 1962, is illustrated in Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème partie: Du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1975, p. 359, fig. 1; the second is displayed in the red Salon of the Château de Rosersberg, the residence of the Swedish royal family (illustrated in H. Groth, Châteaux en Suède, intérieurs et mobilier néoclassiques 1770-1850, Paris, 1990, p. 140); the movement of the third clock is signed Revel, which supports our attribution of the present example to that well-known Parisian clockmaker. It is illustrated in E. Niehüser, Die französische Bronzeuhr, Eine Typologie der figürlichen Darstellungen, Munich, 1997, p. 251, fig. 1079.
Revel à Paris
Very little is known about this clockmaker, who was well known and respected throughout his career. Briefly mentioned in Tardy’s Dictionnaire des horlogers with the first name of Joseph, he was in fact named Joseph-Marie and died in Paris in 1811. After having become master clockmaker, he opened a workshop in the Vieille rue du Temple, and is later recorded in the Palais Royal between 1787 and 1790, then in the Palais Egalité circa 1800, and lastly, in the Palais Tribunat between 1804 and 1806. Certain estate inventories from the early decades of the 19th century mention pieces made by him. In 1817 a clock made by Revel was listed in an inventory drawn up after the death of Adélaïde de Lespinasse-Langeac, the wife of the chevalier de Costalin; in 1821 a second one was recorded as having belonged to Anne-Charlotte-Dorothée, Countess de Médem and widow of the Duke de Courlande.
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