Important Gilt and Patinated Bronze Mantel Clock
“Clio or an Allegory of History”
Case Attributed to René-François Morlay
Paris, Louis XV-Louis XVI transitional period, circa 1770-1775
The round white enamel dial, signed “Charles Du Tertre à Paris”, indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic five-minute intervals by means of two pierced gilt bronze hands. It is housed in a gilt and patinated bronze case. A fine female figure symbolizing the muse Clio, is dressed in a classical toga and laced sandals, and wears her hair in a bun. She stands to one side, examining a parchment engraved with geometrical motifs. On the other side of the case, there is a garland of leaves and flowers; beside it, a young winged putto observes the Muse. He is reclining on draperies, with a globe, the symbol of knowledge, beside him. The shaped quadrangular base is decorated with motifs including garlands of oak leaves and acorns, rosettes and friezes of alternating cabochon and stylized flower motifs within sunken reserves. The clock is raised upon four fluted straight quadrangular feet.
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Relatively close to a number of similar models by Parisian bronze casters of the time, such as Robert Osmond and Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, the present clock may be attributed to the Parisian bronzier René-François Morlay, the creator of a magnificent carillon clock that was formerly in the collection of the Marquis of Hertford, today in the Wallace Collection in London (see P. Hugues, The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Furniture, London, 1996, p. 418-425). Morlay made a clock identical to the present one; it bears his signature stamped in the bronze (see J-D. Augarde, Les ouvriers du Temps, Geneva, 1996, p. 293, fig. 223).
Among the rare identical clocks known, one example was formerly in the collection of Count Jacques de Bryas; it was sold in 1898 (sold Paris, Me Chevallier, Galerie Georges Petit, April 5-6, 1898, lot 242). A second example, whose dial is signed “Filon”, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age à nos jours, Paris, 1997, p. 244, fig. A. One further similar clock of the same model, which was delivered in December 1771 for the chamber of the Countess de Provence in Versailles, and now in the Mobilier national, is displayed in the Musée national du Château de Versailles (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue Le château de Versailles raconte le Mobilier national, Quatre siècles de création, 20 September 2010-11 December 2011, p. 137).
Charles Dutertre was one of the most important Parisian clockmakers of the second half of the 18th century. After becoming a master on November 22, 1758, he quickly gained renown among important contemporary horological collectors and became very successful. Some of his clocks were mentioned during the 18th century, as being in the homes of the Marquise de Langeac, the Prince Charles de Lorraine and the Comte d’Artois, the brother of King Louis XVI.
François-René Morlay became a maître fondeur in 1756.