A Rare Gilt Bronze Antique Table Clock, Louis XV period

François Ageron
The Case Attributed to Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain
Paris, Louis XV period, circa 1750
Height 30.5 cm; width 20.5 cm; depth 9.5 cm.
T
he 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.
 
T
he 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.
 
F
rançois 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.
J
ean-Joseph de Saint-Germain (Paris 1719-1791)
He was probably the most renowned Parisian of the mid 18th century. Active as of 1742, he did become a master craftsman until July 1748. He became famous for his many clock and cartel cases, such as his Diana the Huntress (an example is in the Louvre Museum), the clock supported by two Chinamen (a similar example is in the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Lyon), as well as several clocks based on animal themes, including elephant and rhinoceros clocks (an example in the Louvre Museum). In the early 1760’s he played an important role in the renewal of the French decorative arts and the development of the Neo-classical style, an important example of which may be seen in his Genius of Denmark clock, made for Frederic V and based on a model by Augustin Pajou (1765, in the Amalienborg Palace, Copenhagen). Saint-Germain also made several clocks inspired by the theme of Learning, or Study, based on a model by Louis-Félix de La Rue (examples in the Louvre Museum, the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York). Along with his clock cases, Saint-Germain also made bronze furniture mounts, such as fire dogs, wall lights, and candelabra. His entire body of work bears witness to his remarkable skills as a chaser and bronzeworker, as well as to his extraordinary creativity. He retired in 1776.

P237

Ageron François


Ageron - Saint-Germain A Rare Gilt Bronze Antique Table Clock, Louis XV period