Exceptional Porcelain Lyre Mantel Clock from the Royal Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory
Dial and movement signed by the clockmaker Dieudonné Kinable
Enamels signed “Dubuisson” by the enameler-painter
Paris, late Louis XVI period, circa 1785-1790
Former collection of Valentina Cortese (1923-2019).
The round enamel dial, signed “Kinable”, indicates the hours in Roman numerals, the fifteen-minute intervals in Arabic numerals, the annual calendar and the signs of the Zodiac, by means of four hands, two of which are made of pierced gilt bronze, the two others in blued steel. At the bottom of the dial, under the 6th hour, you can also see the signature “Dubuisson”, which stands for Etienne Gobin, known as Dubuisson, one of the most renowned Parisian enamellers of the time, and a colleague – and the main rival – of Joseph Coteau. The magnificent lyre-shaped case is made of pink Sèvres porcelain and finely chased and gilt bronze. The bezel is made up of a gilt bronze twisted rope; the pendulum is adorned with gilt bronze pearls; the body of the lyre is adorned with gilt bronze beading and with laurel leaf and seed motifs, with two rosettes issuing floral and foliate swags. The clock is surmounted by a mask with radiating sunrays. The spreading foot is decorated with beading and twisted rope motifs and a leafy garland. The en-suite decorated oval base is raised upon four flattened ball feet.
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The Royal Sèvres Porcelain Factory produced the lyre clock model as of 1785. Four colours were offered: turquoise, green, bleu nouveau and pink. These exceptional clocks were made for the connoisseurs of the time. Louis XVI had a similar clock in bleu nouveau colour in his Salon des jeux in Versailles; its dial bore the signature of the clockmaker Courieult (this is almost certainly the example illustrated in P. Verlet, Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1999, p. 41).
Kinable, however, was the clockmaker who purchased the greatest number of lyre cases from the factory, and he developed the model in the late 18th century. Among the porcelain lyre clocks signed by this brilliant horologer, one example is in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 252, fig. 4.6.26). A second such clock is in the Royal British Collection (see C. Jagger, Royal Clocks, The British Monarchy & its Timekeepers 1300-1900, 1983, p. 130, fig. 176).
Dieudonné Kinable (active circa 1790 - 1810)
Dieudonné Kinable is one of the most important Parisian clockmakers of the late 18th century. His shop was located at n° 131 Palais Royal. He purchased a great number of lyre-type porcelain clock cases from the Sèvres porcelain factory, acquiring twenty-one cases in different colours. He worked with the finest artisans of the time, among them the famous enamellers Joseph Coteau (1740-1801) and Etienne Gobin, known as Dubuisson (1731-1815), both of whom furnished him with dials. Several of his pieces are mentioned as belonging to the most important collectors of the Empire period, including the Duchesse of Fitz-James and André Masséna, Prince of Essling and Duke of Rivoli, a Napoleonic Marshall.
Dubuisson (1731 - 1815)
Étienne Gobin, known as Dubuisson, was one of the best enamellers working in Paris during the latter part of the 18th century and the early 19th century. During the mid 1750’s he was employed at Sèvres, then opened his own workshop, being recorded in the 1790’s in the rue de la Huchette and, circa 1812, in the rue de la Calandre. Specializing in enamelled watch cases and clock dials, he is known for his great skill and attention to detail.
Sèvres Royal Manufactory
The Vincennes porcelain factory was created in 1740 under the patronage of Louis XV and the Marquise of Pompadour. It was created to rival with the Meissen porcelain factory, and became its principal European rival. In 1756 it was transferred to Sèvres, becoming the Royal Sèvres porcelain factory. Still active today, during the course of its existence it has had several periods of extraordinary creativity and has called on the finest French and European artisans. Kings and emperors considered it an exemplary showcase for French know-how. Most of the pieces created in the manufactory workshops were intended to be given as diplomatic gifts or to decorate the castles and royal palaces of the 18th and 19th centuries.