Exceptional Matte and Burnished Gilt Bronze, Sèvres Porcelain, and Black and Red Griotte Italian Marble Mantel Clock “La Leçon de l’Amour” and “La Leçon à l’Amour”, Directoire period
Call +33 1 45 61 44 55
Joseph-Marie Revel (died in Paris in 1811)
The enamel dial by Etienne Gobin, known as Dubuisson (1731-1815)
The bronzes attributed to François Rémond
The bisque groups by the Royal Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory after models by sculptor Louis-Simon Boizot (1743-1809)
Almost certainly made under the supervision of Dominique Daguerre
Exceptional Matte and Burnished Gilt Bronze, Sèvres Porcelain, and Black and Red Griotte Italian Marble Mantel Clock
“La Leçon de l’Amour” and “La Leçon à l’Amour”
Paris, Directoire period, circa 1795
Height 56 cm; width 67.5cm; depth 16.5 cm
- Jean-Dominique Augarde, Les ouvriers du Temps, La pendule à Paris de Louis XIV à Napoléon Ier, Editions Antiquorum, Genève, 1996, p. 44, fig. 28 (illustration)
The round white enamel dial is signed “Revel à Paris” and “Dubuis”, which stands for Etienne Gobin, one of the most renowned Parisian enamelers of the period, and a colleague and rival of Joseph Coteau. It indicates the Arabic numeral hours, fifteen-minute intervals, and Republican date by means of three hands, two of which are made of pierced and gilt bronze. The dial is housed in an octagonal case decorated with a stiff leaf frieze, whose bezel is adorned with bead and star friezes. The clock is surmounted by a group representing Cupid in a chariot drawn by two doves, holding a flaming torch and riding among clouds that are decorated with flower and leaf garlands. The movement rests on an oval pillar, which is elaborately adorned with motifs including female masks, cord friezes, fluting, and a scene depicting children playing with a goat, in the manner of the sculptor Clodion, and rests upon a laurel torus supported by four griffons. On either side of the pillar stand bisque groups by the Sèvres Manufactory, representing “La Leçon de l’Amour” and “La Leçon à l’Amour”. The quadrangular base with protruding fluted pilasters, is embellished with braid and leaf friezes; in the center a framed reserve depicting Cupid is flanked by bisque porcelain medallions with a blue ground, in the manner of Wedgwood bisque medallions, which feature mythological scenes. The medallions are framed by bead friezes and are suspended from flower garlands held by butterflies. The base is supported by four reclining sphinxes whose tails terminate in scrolls, and which rest in turn on an oblong plinth that is raised upon four flattened ball feet.
The present clock, a masterpiece of Parisian horology of the late 18th century, is extremely luxurious and may be confidently attributed to the chaser-gilder François Rémond, who worked almost exclusively for marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre, the most important supplier of luxury goods of the period. This attribution, which has been confirmed in a conversation with Monsieur Christian Baulez, honorary curator of the Musée national du Château de Versailles and a Rémond specialist, suggests that the clock was ordered by an extremely prestigious connoisseur. The bisque porcelain groups were created at the Sèvres porcelain factory after models by sculptor Louis-Simon Boizot (1743-1809), who at the time was the director of the Manufactory’s sculpture workshop.
Today, only three identical clocks are known. The first example is on display in the Grassy Horological Museum in Madrid (most of the pieces in the museum were formerly in the collection of the great Catalan collector Perez de Olaguer-Feliu. The second clock, whose dial is signed “Antoine Philibert”, was purchased in Paris in 1910 by Mrs. Arabella Huntington; it is today in the Huntington Collection in San Marino, California (pictured in S.M. Bennett and C. Sargentson, French Art of the Eighteenth Century at the Huntington, 2008, p. 154, catalogue n° 51). One further example of the model, in which the bisque groups are replaced by bronze groups depicting the same themes, was previously in the collection of Prince Nikolai Borisovich Yusupov (1750-1831) in Moscow. It was transferred to the Yusupov Palace in Saint Petersburg in 1850, and was seized during the 1917 Revolution and deposited in the Hermitage Museum in 1925 (pictured in the exhibition catalogue The Triumph of Eros, Art and Seduction in the 18th Century France, Somerset House, London, November 2006-April 2007, p. 79, fig. 31).
Was the most important marchand-mercier, i.e. supplier luxury objects, of the last quarter of the 18th century. Relatively little is known about the early years of his career; he seems to have been active as of 1772, when he went into partnership with Philippe-Simon Poirier (1720-1785), another famous marchand-mercier who is known to have had pieces of furniture decorated with porcelain plaques made by the Royal Sèvres Manufactory. When Poirier retired around 1777-1778, Daguerre took over the shop in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, keeping the company name “La Couronne d’Or”. While conserving his predecessor’s clientele, he greatly developed the firm’s activity in just a few years, taking an active part in the renewal of the decorative arts in Paris, and calling on the finest cabinetmakers of the day, including Adam Weisweiler, Martin Carlin and Claude-Charles Saunier, Georges Jacob, the cabinetmaker of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, and the bronze casters and chaser-gilders Pierre-Philippe Thomire and François Rémond, as well as the clockmaker Renacle-Nicolas Sotiau. Having brought the creation of French luxury items to their highest point, Daguerre, a visionary and exceptional businessman, settled in England in the early 1780s and went into partnership with Martin-Eloi Lignereux, who ran the Parisian shop. In London one of his patrons was the Prince Regent, the future King George IV. Daguerre took an active part in the furnishing and decoration of Carlton House and the Brighton Pavilion, taking advantage of his extensive network of Parisian artisans, and importing numerous pieces of furniture, chairs, mantelpieces, bronze furnishings and objets d’art. In 1787 alone, he imported 14500£ worth of furnishings. Several influential British aristocrats, impressed by the merchant’s talent, engaged him for their own homes; these included Count Spencer for Althorp, where Daguerre collaborated with architect Henry Holland (1745-1806). In Paris he continued, through the intermediary of his partner Lignereux, to work for influential connoisseurs, supplying magnificent pieces to the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne that were destined for the apartments of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. He retired in 1793, probably due to the effects of the Revolution and the loss of many of his most important clients.
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.
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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