Important Copper and Bronze Rocaille Stained Horn Engraved Marquetry Wall Cartel and Console
Paris, Louis XV period, circa 1735-1740
The chased copper dial is inlaid with twenty-five white enamel cartouches bearing the Roman numeral hours and the five-minute Arabic numeral intervals; the time is indicated by means of two polished steel or blued steel hands. The movement is housed in a case that is inlaid overall with polychrome marquetry, featuring flower bouquets and leaf garlands in tortoiseshell or stained and engraved horn against a plain copper ground. The cartel is elaborately decorated with finely chased gilt bronze mounts, featuring scrolling foliage, shells, volutes and flower garlands. It is surmounted by a winged leaf bouquet, while the lower portion terminates in a rocaille leaf motif. Below the dial, there is a rocaille motif in the style of Parisian ornamentalist Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier (1695-1750).
The unusual design of the present bracket clock retains all the magnificence and monumentality of the important horological creations produced by André-Charles Boulle during the reign of Louis XIV. Its rocaille gilt bronze mounts are particularly elaborate and its chasing and gilding are of exceptionally fine quality. The waisted case is stylistically similar to the work of certain great Parisian cabinetmakers of the time, who specialized in making clock and regulator cases, among them François Goyer, Antoine Foullet and Balthazar Lieutaud.
Today only a few similar wall cartel clocks are known. Among them, one example whose dial is signed “Gédéon Duval” is in the National Museum in Stockholm (see Tardy, La pendule française, Ier Partie: De l’Horloge gothique à la pendule Louis XV, Paris, 1975, p. 159). A second clock is in the Château de Versailles (illustrated in M. and Y. Gay, “Horlogerie royale au Château de Versailles”, in Bulletin de l’Association nationale des collectionneurs et amateurs d’Horlogerie ancienne et d’Art, Spring 1997, n° 78, p. 23, fig. 33). A third example, with a movement by Bunon, is illustrated in J-D. Augarde, Les ouvriers du Temps, La pendule à Paris de Louis XIV à Napoléon Ier, p. 119, fig. 80. A fourth cartel, by Etienne Baillon, was in the collection of the Hessian princes in the Fasanerie Castle in Fulda (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue Gehäuse der Zeit, Uhren aus fünf Jahrhunderten im Besitz der Hessischen Hausstiftung, 2002, p. 47, catalogue n° 12). A further example, whose dial is signed “Lomet à Paris”, is in the Poldi-Pezzoli Museum in Milan (see R. Mühe and Horand M. Vogel, Horloges anciennes, Manuel des horloges de table, des horloges murales et des pendules de parquet européennes, Office du livre, Fribourg, 1978, p. 98, fig. 112). One further similar cartel, now lacking its bracket, which illustrates the fable of the fox and the stork, is in the Royal Spanish Collection (see J. Ramon Colon de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio nacional, Madrid, 1987, p. 28, catalogue n° 9).