Rare Gilt Bronze and White Carrara Marble Lyre Clock with Eagles’ Heads, Louis XVI period

Antoine Cronier

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Rare Gilt Bronze and White Carrara Marble Lyre Clock with Eagles’ Heads
Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1785.
Height 61.5 cm; width 27 cm; depth 13.5 cm

The white enamel dial, signed “Cronier Rue St Honoré”, indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic numeral fifteen-minute intervals and date by means of three hands, one of which is of pierced and gilt bronze, while the other two are of blued steel. The skeleton movement is fitted between the two partially openwork arms of a lyre that emerges from a bouquet of acanthus leaves set at its base. The pendulum is of the compensation gridiron type. The sides, which are adorned with flowering branches and beads, terminate in two magnificent eagles’ heads from whose beaks is suspended a garland of flowers and leaves. It frames a bouquet made up of leaves and sunflowers. The oval white marble base is adorned with chains suspended from rings, bead friezes, and a ribbon-tied medallion with two flaming hearts, in the center of a frieze of entwined branches with laurel leaves and seeds. The clock is supported on four molded toupie feet.

According to Svend Eriksen, the first true lyre clock model is the one that is today in the Royal Swedish collections (see Early Neoclassicism in France, London, 1974). In France, the basic composition of the lyre clock changed very little since it was first created; that appears to have occurred in the late 1750s or the early years of the following decade. However, though the design of lyre clocks changed little the materials used, as well as the ingenious and complex movements, underwent considerable modification, reflecting connoisseurs’ changing tastes and bearing witness to the extraordinary skill of clockmakers of the period. The present clock stands out due to its particularly elaborate design and the quality of the gilding and chasing of its bronze mounts. Among the rare identical models known – though they feature certain variations in their decoration – one example, signed “Bourdier à Paris”, is in the Lyon Musée des Arts décoratifs (see the exhibition catalogue Ô Temps! Suspends ton vol, Catalogue des pendules et horloges du Musée des Arts décoratifs de Lyon, 2008, p. 83, catalogue n° 34). A second clock is in the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris (illustrated in Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème Partie: Du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1975, p. 282). One further such clock is in Pavlovsk Palace in Saint Petersburg (pictured in A. Kuchumov, Pavlovsk, Palace & Park, Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad, 1975, p. 67, fig. 40).
Antoine Cronier (1732 – after 1806)
Born in Paris on 13th January 1732, he was the son of Françoise née Boulard and Charles Crosnier, a maître-menuisier. In 1745 Antoine Crosnier began an apprenticeship under Nicolas Pierre Thuillier and by 1753 was working independently of a guild, i.e. as ouvrier libre ; he was received as a Parisian maître-horloger in 1763.
By 1759, Cronier, who was one of the principal clockmakers of the second half of the 18th century, opened a workshop in the rue Saint-Honoré, 140. For the cases and bronzes of his clocks, he called upon the best artisans of the time, including the renowned bronziers Robert and Jean-Baptiste Osmond, Edmé Roy, René François Morlay, Nicolas Bonnet and François Vion. He used cases made by the cabinetmakers Jean-Pierre Latz, Balthazar Lieutaud and François Goyer, and employed the gilder Honoré Noël and the tapissier Nicolas Leclerc.
During the 18th century, certain of his pieces were mentioned in the collections of the maréchal de Choiseul-Stainville, the Duke des Deux-Ponts, the marquis de Sainte-Amaranthe, and the Prince Belosselsky-Belozersky.
Today his clocks are preserved in many prestigious private and public collections, including the Nissim de Camondo Museum in Paris, Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, the Residenzmuseum in Munich, the Residenz Bamberg, the Palazzo Reale in Turin, the Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire in Brussels, the Nationalmuseet in Stockholm, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Huntington Collection in San Marino, California, Dalmeny House in South Queensferry and the Pavlovsk Palace in Saint Petersburg.

Object Name: Rare Gilt Bronze and White Carrara Marble Lyre Clock with Eagles’ Heads, Louis XVI period
Artist name: Antoine Cronier
Reference: P220
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