Important Gilt and Patinated Bronze and White Carrara Marble Mantel Clock “L’Etude” , Louis XVI period
Call +33 1 45 61 44 55
Almost Certainly Made Under the Supervision of Dominique Daguerre
The Movement by Jean-Antoine Lépine
The Figures After Models by Louis-Simon Boizot
The Case Attributed to François Rémond
Important Gilt and Patinated Bronze and White Carrara Marble Mantel Clock“L'Etude”
Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1785
Height 52 cm; width 69 cm; depth 15 cm
- Almost certainly the clock described in February 1808, which stood in the salon of the Parisian mansion of banker Jean-Frédéric Perregaux (1744-1808): « A white marble clock with two figures representing “Study”, the ornaments matte gilt, the movement by Lépine valued at 800 francs ».
The round enamel dial, signed “Lepine Hger du Roi ”, indicates the Arabic numeral hours, fifteen-minute intervals, date, and days of the week, as well as their corresponding zodiac signs, by means of four blued steel and pierced gilt bronze hands. The movement is housed in a drum case that rests upon a square plinth decorated with bas-reliefs representing putti lighting a fire. It is surmounted by a magnificent eagle spreading its wings and holding thunderbolts in its claws. On either side of the clock are seated two patinated bronze figures: a young man writing on a tablet with a stylus, and a young woman who is reading. The figures, which are surrounded by a frieze of stylized foliage, rest on a rectangular white marble base with rounded corners that is elaborately decorated with chased gilt bronze motifs, including a central bearded male mask flanked by winged Cupids whose bodies terminate in elaborate scrolling motifs, and round medallions centered by masks. The base is raised upon nine feet that are adorned with finely chased leaf friezes.
This clock model, which is often erroneously called “Arts and Letters”, “Study and Philosophy”, “aux Maréchaux” or “Les Liseuses”, is only referred to as “L’Etude”, or “Study” in the commercial correspondence between the chaser-gilder François Rémond and the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre (the most important purveyor of luxury objects during the reign of Louis XVI). The preparatory drawing for the clock, annotated in Rémond’s hand, was offered at auction in Paris in February 1981 (illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 295, fig. 4.17.5). Produced as of 1784, the model was inspired by two figures created in 1776 by sculptor Louis-Simon Boizot (1743-1809) for the Royal Sèvres Manufactory, representing a young girl reading and a young man writing, and known respectively as “Study” and “Philosophy”. One such Sèvres bisque porcelain figure is part of the Jones collection in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (pictured in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, op.cit., Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 294, fig. 4.17.2). These figures were used by Daguerre, who requested that Rémond depict them leaning against the portion of the case containing the movement, with an eagle surmounting the composition. Thus was created one of the most successful neoclassical Parisian clocks of the latter portion of Louis XVI’s reign. The clock became an immediate success among collectors and connoisseurs of the period.
Clocks of this model were cited in 18th century documents as belonging to the influential collectors of the time. One example is the mention of “…a mantel clock bearing the name of Sotiau, with an enamel dial indicating the hours and minutes, in a case adorned with garlands and surmounted by an ormolu gilt copper eagle accompanied by two bronzed copper figures seated on a marble base decorated with bas-reliefs, bead ornaments and ormolu gilt copper feet, 350 livres”, which was included in January 1790 in the probate inventory of Anne-Adélaïde de Mailly-Nesle, the wife of Prince Louis-Marie d’Arenberg. Another “mantel clock bearing the name of Sotiau à Paris, with date and two principal bronze figures based on the Fable, the clock standing on a pedestal and surmounted by an eagle, on a wide white marble base. The whole in chased and gilt copper, 2400 livres” was mentioned in an inventory as belonging to the Salm Princes in November 1790. One further similar clock was described in November 1787, when the collection of Joseph-Hyacinthe-François de-Paule de Rigaud, Count de Vaudreuil, was sold at auction: “N°382. A clock by Sotiau. It is composed of a cylinder surmounted by an eagle bearing thunderbolts in its claws, and two supporting figures representing, on one side, a young man writing on a tablet and on the other, a woman who is reading. The cartel stands on a square pedestal that is decorated with a bas-relief depicting children, set upon a white marble plinth with sunken reserves and a frieze made up of male masks and children terminating in scrolling ornaments. Two sunken medallions feature Medusa’s heads. This clock is both formally beautiful and extremely well finished. The excellence of its movement leaves nothing to be desired. The matt gilding has been executed with the greatest of care. Height 20 inches, width 26”.
A few similar clocks, some featuring variations, are today in important public and private collections. Among them, one example, whose dial is signed “Dubuc jeune”, is on display in the Quirinal Palace in Rome (illustrated in A. Gonzales-Palacios, Il patrimonio artistico del Quirinale, Gli Arredi francesi, Milan, 1996, p. 308, n° 89). A second example is in the Salon des Aides de Camp of the Elysee Palace (see M. and Y. Gay, “Du Pont d’Iéna à l’Elysée”, in the Bulletin de l’association nationale des collectionneurs et amateurs d’horlogerie ancienne (ANCAHA), Summer 1993, n° 67, p. 12). A third clock, with a dial signed “Mercier à Paris”, belongs to the Banque de France in Paris (illustrated in M. and Y. Gay, “L’ANCAHA à la Banque de France”, in the Bulletin ANCAHA, Summer 1995, n° 73, p. 76). A fourth clock, which probably once belonged to King Louis XVI, is pictured in C. Baulez, “Les bronziers Gouthière, Thomire et Rémond”, in the exhibition catalogue Louis-Simon Boizot 1743-1809, Sculpteur du roi et directeur de l’atelier de sculpture à la Manufacture de Sèvres, Paris, 2001, p. 287, fig. 9. Three similar clocks are in the Spanish Royal Collections (see J. Ramon Colon de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio nacional, Madrid, 1987, p. 62, 64 and 92). Three further examples are in the British Royal Collection (illustrated in C. Jagger, Royal Clocks, The British Monarchy and its Timekeepers 1300-1900, London, 1983, p. 211-212).
François Rémond (circa 1747-1812)
Along with Pierre Gouthière, he was one of the most important Parisian chaser-gilders of the last third of the 18th century. He began his apprenticeship in 1763 and became a master chaser-gilder in 1774. His great talent quickly won him a wealthy clientele, including certain members of the Court. Through the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre, François Rémond was involved in furnishing the homes of most of the important collectors of the late 18th century, supplying them with exceptional clock cases, firedogs, and candelabra. These elegant and innovative pieces greatly contributed to his fame.
Lépine Horloger de l’Impératrice: It is sometimes difficult to attribute pieces by Lépine to a particular member of this Parisian horological dynasty of the late 18th and the early 19th century. The signature and the date of the present example allow it to be attributed to Alexandre-Pierre-François Raguet, known as Raguet-Lépine, the son of Jean-Antoine I’s son-in-law, who took over the Raguet-Lépine workshop in 1810 after the death of his cousin Jean-Antoine II Lépine. A few years later he sold the workshop to Paul Chapuy and embarked on a political career, becoming Deputy of Vendôme from 1834 to 1845. He was named Pair de France by Louis-Philippe in August 1845.
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