Rare Chased, Patinated and Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock, Directoire period
Call +33 1 45 61 44 55
Attributed to Jean-Simon Deverberie (1764 - 1824)
Rare Chased, Patinated and Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock
Paris, Directoire period, circa 1795-1800
Height 34 cm; width 45 cm; depth 12 cm
Yves Gay and André Lemaire, “Les pendules au char”, in Bulletin de l’Association nationale des collectionneurs et amateurs d’horlogerie ancienne, Spring 1993, n° 66, p. 29.
The enamel ring dial indicates the Roman numeral hours and the minute graduations by means of two blued steel hands. Revealing the skeleton movement, it forms the wheel of a small chariot driven by a young woman modelled in chased and gilt bronze. Dressed in an Empire-waist dress, her hair tied up in a bun, she holds a whip in one hand and in the other the reins of the spirited, patinated bronze horse that is harnessed to the chariot. Behind the young woman stands a young black boy with enamel eyes, wearing a feather headdress and loincloth. He adds an exotic touch to the composition. The moulded a rectangular base is adorned with foliate motifs, scrolls and palmettes; the four feet are decorated with foliate motifs.
In the late 18th century, the philosophical writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau extolled the virtues of a return to Nature via the myth of the “noble savage”. Due to their influence exoticism became fashionable in contemporary literature. Bernardin de Saint Pierre’s great success “Paul et Virginie”, published in 1788, Daniel Defoe’s famous “Robinson Crusoe”, Marmontel’s novel “Les Incas”, published during the American Revolutionary War, and Chateaubriand’s “Atala”, published in 1801, all profoundly changed Europeans’ view of other civilisations. This literary movement created a romantic vision of a sort of pagan Garden of Eden, renewed and regenerated by Christianity. As often happened in the French decorative arts, this was to have an effect on many artistic creations, particularly clocks and lighting instruments. This is the context within which the present clock was created by bronze caster Jean-Simon Deverberie in the late 18th century. It is particularly interesting because it is related to two types of clock, both extremely sought-after by knowledgeable horological collectors at the time; the “pendule au nègre” and the “pendule au char”.
Very few similar clocks are known; most date from a later period. One such example is illustrated in Tardy, La pendule française, du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1975, p. 377; a second clock is in the François Duesberg Museum in Mons (see Musée François Duesberg, Arts décoratifs 1775-1825, Bruxelles, 2004, p. 54); a third example is in the collection of the Princes of Hessen in the Fasanerie Palace in Fulda (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue Gehäuse der Zeit, 2002, p. 93).
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”.
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