A Rare Gilt Bronze Table Clock, Louis XV period

François Ageron

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François Ageron
The Case Attributed to Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain
A Rare Gilt Bronze Table Clock
Paris, Louis XV period, circa 1750
Height 30.5 cm; width 20.5 cm; depth 9.5 cm.

The round white enamel dial, signed “Ageron à Paris”, indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic five-minute intervals by means of two gilt bronze hands. The movement, which is also signed, is housed in a finely chased gilt bronze Rococo case. The clock is surmounted by a bouquet of leaves; it is adorned with C-scrolls, acanthus leaves, flowers, feuilles de refend and volutes. The sides, with tall pierced reserves, feature framed trellis panels centered by engraved flowers. The clock stands on curved C-scroll feet that terminate in volutes.

The unusual design of the present rare table clock was inspired by the work of Parisian designers of the mid 18th century; i.e. around the mid-point of the reign of Louis XV. They favored curving lines, adopting the style known as Rococo. Today only a few comparable clocks are known. Among them, one example whose dial is signed “Stollewerck à Paris” and whose bronze case is signed “Saint-Germain”, is illustrated in P. Heuer and K. Maurice, European Pendulum Clocks, Decorative Instruments of Measuring Time, Munich, 1988, p. 27, fig. 24. A second clock, surmounted by a putto, was delivered in 1757 to Madame Adélaïde in the Château de Versailles (see the exhibition catalogue Le Château de Versailles raconte le Mobilier national, Quatre siècles de création, 2010, p. 76-77). A third clock with a Rococo base, which is surmounted by two doves and is signed “Saint-Germain”, is in the Paris Musée des Arts Décoratifs (see H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 127, fig. 2.8.14). Another, with a base containing a carillon, which is veneered in green horn and is signed “Saint-Germain”, is illustrated in G. and A. Wannenes, Les plus belles pendules françaises, De Louis XIV à l’Empire, Editions Polistampa, Florence, 2013, p. 152). One further such clock, with a carrying handle, whose case was also made by Saint-Germain, is shown in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Paris, 1997, p. 112, fig. F.

Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain (Paris 1719-1791)
Was probably the most famous Parisian bronzier of the mid 18th century. Active as of 1742, and becoming a master in 1748, he was known for creating many clock and cartel cases, which earned him fame. Among these are the cartel depicting Diana the Huntress (one such example is in the Musée du Louvre), the clock supported by two Chinamen (one such model is in the Lyon Musée des Arts Décoratifs), as well as several animal-themed clocks, mostly elephants and rhinoceroses. In the late 1750s, he also played a fundamental role in the renewal of the Parisian decorative arts and the development of the neoclassical movement. In parallel to his horological creations s, Saint-Germain also produced many bronze furnishings, including firedogs, wall lights, and candelabra, always demonstrating the same creativity and always displaying his immense talent as a bronze caster. He retired in the mid-1770s.
François Ageron (d. after 1783) One of the most important Parisian clockmakers of the 18th century. After becoming a master on July 17, 1741, he opened workshops successively in the Place du Pont Saint-Michel, the quai des Augustins, the rue Saint-Louis au Palais and the Place Dauphine. He quickly gained a reputation among the important Parisian horological collectors, becoming known for his movements, which often feature complications. Like most of the fine clockmakers of the time, he called on the best artisans for his clock cases, including the cabinetmaker Balthazar Lieutaud and the bronze casters Saint-Germain, Caffieri and Osmond. He stopped working in the early 1780’s and his business was sold on May 31, 1784. During the 18th century, his clocks were mentioned in important private collections, including those of François-Ferdinand, Comte de Lannoy, René-François-André, Comte de la Tour du Pin and Vicomte de La Charce, and Christian IV, Count Palatine of Zweibrücken. One of the clocks made by Ageron was described in 1787; it was in the bedroom of Queen Marie-Antoinette’s small apartments of in the Château de Versailles.

Object Name: A Rare Gilt Bronze Table Clock, Louis XV period
Artist name: François Ageron
Reference: P237
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