“Lepaute de Bellefontaine”
Jacques-Joseph Lepaute, called “de Bellefontaine”, was one of the most talented Parisian clockmakers of the last third of the 18th century. Probably a member of the Lepaute family that came originally from Thonne-la-Long, he was born in Bellefontaine near Luxembourg and went to Paris at a relatively young age. After having probably worked as an “ouvrier libre”, he became a master and soon became a favorite among connoisseurs of luxury horology. With workshops successively in the rue Saint-Honoré, the rue Neuve des Petits-Champs, and the rue des Gravilliers, he produced some of the most remarkable horological creations of the last third of the 18th century. Nevertheless, he encountered financial difficulties at the end of the 1770s. When the value of his workshop was estimated, the names of well-known artisans appeared among his collaborators. These included chaser-gilders such as Robert and Jean-Baptiste Osmond, François Rémond, Michel Poisson and Joseph-Noël , Turpin, as well as the enameller Joseph Coteau and the spring maker Etienne-Claude Richard. In 1783 Lepaute received the much-coveted title of “Horloger de Monsieur”, that is Louis-Stanislas-Xavier de France, Comte de Provence, brother of Louis XVI and the future Louis XVIII (1815-1824). In addition, he delivered several clocks to Prince Charles de Lorraine and received a commission for a monumental clock bearing the arms of Stanislas Augustus Poniatowski, King of Poland. Several decades later, one of his clocks was mentioned in the probate inventory of the General and Senator Antoine-César de Choiseul-Praslin, Duke de Praslin. Today, his clocks may be found in important public and private collections around the world, including the Wallace Collection and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, in the Royal Palace of Warsaw, the Royal Museums of Art and History of Brussels and the Royal British Collections.