Important Gilt and Patinated Bronze and White Carrara Marble Antique Mantel Clock Representing “Study”, Directoire period

Cardinaux à Paris
Probably Made Under the Supervision of Dominique Daguerre
The Figures After Models by Louis-Simon Boizot
The Case Attributed to François Rémond
Paris, Directoire period, circa 1795
Height 52 cm; width 69 cm; depth 15 cm
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he round enamel dial is signed “Cardinaux à Paris”. It indicates the Arabic numeral hours and fifteen-minute intervals, as well as the date, by means of three blued steel and pierced gilt bronze hands. The movement is housed in a drum case that rests upon a square plinth decorated with bas-reliefs representing putti lighting a fire. It is surmounted by a magnificent eagle spreading its wings and holding thunderbolts in its claws. On either side of the clock are seated two figures: a young man writing on a tablet with a stylus, and a young woman who is reading. The seated figures, which are surrounded by a frieze of stylised foliage, rest on a rectangular white marble base with rounded corners that is elaborately decorated with chased gilt bronze motifs, including a central bearded male mask flanked by winged Cupids whose bodies terminate in elaborate scrolling motifs, and round medallions centred by masks. The base is raised upon six chased feet.
 
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his clock model, often erroneously called “Arts and Letters”, “Study and Philosophy”, “aux Maréchaux” or “Les Liseuses”, is cited in the commercial correspondence between the chaser-gilder François Rémond and the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre (the most important purveyor of luxury objects during the reign of Louis XVI) as “L’Etude”, or “Study”. The preparatory drawing for the clock, annotated in Rémond’s hand, was offered at auction in Paris in February 1981 (illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 295, fig. 4.17.5). Produced as of 1784, the clock’s design was inspired by two figures created in 1776 by sculptor Louis-Simon Boizot (1743-1809) for the Royal Sèvres Manufactory, representing a young girl reading and a young man writing, known respectively as  “Study” and “Philosophy”. One such bisque porcelaine Sèvres figure is part of the Jones collection in London’s Victoria & Albert Museum (illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, op.cit., Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 294, fig. 4.17.2). These figures were used by Daguerre, who requested that Rémond depict them leaning against the portion of the case containing the movement, with an eagle surmounting the composition. Thus was created one of the most successful Parisian neoclassical clocks of the latter portion of Louis XVI’s reign. The clock was an immediate success among collectors and connoisseurs of the period.

Clocks of this model were cited in the 18th century as belonging to the influential collectors of the time. One example is the mention of “…a mantel clock bearing the name of Sotiau, with an enamel dial indicating the hours and minutes, in a case adorned with garlands and surmounted by an ormolu gilt copper eagle accompanied by two bronzed copper figures seated on a marble base decorated with bas-reliefs, bead ornaments and ormolu gilt copper feet, 350 livres”, which was included in January 1790 in the probate inventory of Anne-Adélaïde de Mailly-Nesle, the wife of Prince Louis-Marie d’Arenberg. Another “mantel clock bearing the name of Sotiau à Paris, with date and two principal bronze figures based on the Fable, the clock standing on a pedestal and surmounted by an eagle, on a wide white marble base. The whole in chased and gilt copper, 2400 livres” was mentioned in an inventory as belonging to the Salm Princes in November 1790. One further similar clock was described in November 1787, when the collection of Joseph-Hyacinthe-François de-Paule de Rigaud, Count de Vaudreuil, was sold at auction: “N°382. A clock by Sotiau. It is composed of a cylinder surmounted by an eagle bearing thunderbolts in its claws, and two supporting figures representing, on one side, a young man writing on a tablet and, on the other, a woman who is reading. The cartel stands on a square pedestal that is decorated with a bas-relief depicting children, set upon a white marble plinth with sunken reserves and a frieze made up of male masks and children terminating in scrolling ornaments. Two sunken medallions feature Medusa’s heads. This clock is both formally beautiful and extremely well finished. The excellence of its movement leaves nothing to be desired. The matt gilding has been  executed with the greatest of care. Height 20 inches, width 26”.

A few similar clocks, some featuring variations, are today in important public and private collections. Among them, one example, whose dial is signed “Dubuc jeune”, is on display in the Quirinal Palace in Rome (illustrated in A. Gonzales-Palacios, Il patrimonio artistico del Quirinale, Gli Arredi francesi, Milan, 1996, p. 308, n° 89). A second example is in the Salon des Aides de camp of the Elysee Palace (see M. and Y. Gay, “Du Pont d’Iéna à l’Elysée”, in the Bulletin de l’association nationale des collectionneurs et amateurs d’horlogerie ancienne (ANCAHA), Summer 1993, n° 67, p. 12). A third clock, with a dial signed “Mercier à Paris”, is in the collection of the Banque de France in Paris (illustrated in M. and Y. Gay, “L’ANCAHA à la Banque de France”, in the Bulletin ANCAHA, Summer 1995, n° 73, p. 76). A fourth clock, probably once part of the collection of King Louis XVI, is pictured in C. Baulez, “Les bronziers Gouthière, Thomire et Rémond”, in the exhibition catalogue Louis-Simon Boizot 1743-1809, Sculpteur du roi et directeur de l’atelier de sculpture à la Manufacture de Sèvres, Paris, 2001, p. 287, fig. 9. Three similar clocks are in the Spanish Royal Collections (see J. Ramon Colon de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio nacional, Madrid, 1987, p. 62, 64 and 92); three further examples are in the Royal British Collection (illustrated in C. Jagger, Royal Clocks, The British Monarchy and its Timekeepers 1300-1900, London, 1983, p. 211-212).
 
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rançois 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.
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ouis-Simon Boizot (1743 - 1809)
The son of Antoine Boizot, a designer at the Gobelins tapestry manufacture, Boizot worked in the atelier of sculptor René-Michel Slodtz (1705–1764), who also trained Houdon. Boizot married Marguerite Virginie Guibert, the daughter of sculptor Honoré Guibert. In 1778 he was admitted to the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture and exhibited at the yearly salons until 1800. His portrait busts of Louis XVI and Joseph II were created in 1777 and made in bisque porcelain at Sèvres.
From 1773 to 1800 Boizot directed the sculpture workshop of the Sèvres porcelain Manufactory, producing the series of unglazed biscuit figures with a matte finish resembling that of marble.
Boizot also created terracotta designs for gilt-bronze clock cases, such as that of the allegorical "Avignon" clock in the Wallace Collection in London, which was cast and chased by Pierre Gouthière in 1777.
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ominique Daguerre
Is the most important marchand-mercier – i.e. merchant of luxury objects – of the last quarter of the 18th century. Little is known about the early years of his career; he appears to have begun to exercise his profession around 1772, the year he went into partnership with Philippe-Simon Poirier (1720-1785), the famous marchand-mercier who began using porcelain plaques from the Manufacture royale de Sèvres to adorn pieces of furniture. When Poirier retired around 1777-1778, Daguerre took over the shop in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, keeping the name “La Couronne d’Or”. He retained his predecessor’s clientele, and significantly increased the shop’s activity within just a few years. He played an important role in the renewal of the Parisian decorative arts, working with the finest cabinetmakers of the day, including Adam Weisweiler, Martin Carlin and Claude-Charles Saunier, cabinetmaker of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, Georges Jacob, the bronziers and chaser-gilders Pierre-Philippe Thomire and François Rémond, and the clockmaker Renacle-Nicolas Sotiau. A visionary merchant who brought the level of French luxury goods to its highest point, Daguerre settled in England in the early 1780’s, having gone into partnership with Martin-Eloi Lignereux, who remained in charge of the Paris shop. In London, where he enjoyed the patronage of the Prince Regent (the future King George IV), Daguerre actively participated in the furnishing and decoration of Carlton House and the Brighton Pavilion. Taking advantage of his extensive network of Parisian artisans, he imported most of the furniture, chairs, mantelpieces, bronze furnishings, and art objects from France, billing over 14500£, just for 1787. Impressed by Daguerre’s talent, several British aristocrats, called on his services as well. Count Spencer engaged him for the decoration of Althorp, where Daguerre worked alongside architect Henry Holland (1745-1806). In Paris, Daguerre and his partner Lignereux continued to supply influential connoisseurs and to deliver magnificent pieces of furniture to the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, which were placed in the apartments of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Daguerre retired in 1793, no doubt deeply affected by the French Revolution and the loss of many of his most important clients.

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Rémond François


Rémond - Boizot Important Gilt and Patinated Bronze and White Carrara Marble Antique Mantel Clock Representing “Study”, Directoire period