Fine Chased Gilt Bronze Wall Cartel
Case Attributed to Robert Osmond
Paris, early Louis XVI period, circa 1770-1775
The enamel dial, signed Moisy à Paris, has Roman numerals for the hours and Arabic numerals for the minutes; the exceptional quality of the finely chased gilt bronze Neoclassical case allows it to be attributed to the renowned Parisian bronzier Robert Osmond. The bezel is adorned with an interlace motif; the arched pediment, accentuated by a matted reserve, is surmounted by a billowing ribbon bow; the sides are formed by imposing acanthus-decorated scrolls. An egg and dart frieze and a sumptuously chased flower and fruit swag animate the lower portion of the case, in which the glazed pendulum aperture is framed by a striated frieze; the case terminating in an acanthus leaf bouquet with a chased finial. The whole is surmounted by an antique-style urn decorated with laurel leaf toruses, inlaid fluting, pierced handles with mobile links and a cover adorned with acanthus leaves and an acanthus-wrapped finial.
Several cartels relate to the present example, in particular an apparently one-of-a-kind example that is signed by Osmond, today in a private collection (see H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Band II, Munich, 1986, p. 544, fig. 7); a second example is in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg (illustrated in M. Gay, « Présence horlogère française à Saint-Pétersbourg », ANCAHA, Spring 2008, n° 111, p. 13) a third, in sculpted gilt wood, is illustrated in S. de Ricci, Le style Louis XVI, Mobilier et décoration, Hachette et Cie, p. IX. While these clocks are similar, to the best of our knowledge this cartel is a one-of-a-kind piece, probably specially commissioned in the early 1770’s by a Parisian connoisseur. It may be related to the example described in the 1774 inventory drawn up after the death of the widow of Anne-Charles-Frédéric de la Trémoille, Prince de Talmont, one of the most important collectors of the time: “A clock in its gilt bronze cartel with enamel dial marking the hours and minutes, bearing the name Moisy à Paris…” (Archives Nationales, ET/XCI/7 January 1774).
Jean Moisy (1714 - 1782)
Jean Moisy is one of the most important Parisian clockmakers of the 18th century. He worked with the bronziers Caffieri and Osmond, and furnished two clocks to King Louis XV for the Château de Saint-Hubert. Working with the influential marchands-merciers of the time, Moisy built up an exceptional clientele, including members of the aristocracy such as the Duke de Praslin, the Prince de Talmont and the Duchess d’Enville, and financiers such as the powerful Randon de Boisset, Marin de La Haye and Pâris de Montmartel.
Robert Osmond (1711 - 1789)
French bronze-caster Robert Osmond was born in Canisy, near Saint-Lô; he began his apprenticeship in the workshop of Louis Regnard, maître fondeur en terre et en sable, and became a master bronzier in Paris in 1746. He is recorded as working in the rue des Canettes in the St. Sulpice parish, moving to the rue de Mâcon in 1761. Robert Osmond became a juré, thus gaining a certain degree of protection of his creative rights. In 1753, he sent for his nephew in Normandy, and in 1761, the workshop, which by that time had grown considerably, moved to the rue de Macon. The nephew, Jean-Baptiste Osmond (1742-after 1790) became a master in 1764 and as of that date worked closely with his uncle, to such a degree that it is difficult to differentiate between the contributions of each. Robert appears to have retired around 1775. Jean-Baptiste, who remained in charge of the workshop after the retirement of his uncle, encountered difficulties and went bankrupt in 1784. Robert Osmond died in 1789.
Prolific bronze casters and chasers, the Osmonds worked with equal success in both the Louis XV and the Neo-classical styles. Prized by connoisseurs of the period, their work was distributed by clockmakers and marchands-merciers. Although they made all types of furnishing objects, including fire dogs, wall lights and inkstands, the only extant works by them are clocks, including one depicting the Rape of Europe (Getty Museum, California) in the Louis XV style and two important Neo-classical forms, of which there are several examples, as well as a vase with lions’ heads (Musée Condé, Chantilly and the Cleveland Museum of Art) and a cartel-clock with chased ribbons (examples in the Stockholm Nationalmuseum; Paris, Nissim de Camondo Museum). A remarkable clock decorated with a globe, cupids and a Sèvres porcelain plaque (Paris, Louvre) is another of their notable works.
Specialising at first in the rocaille style, in the early 1760’s they turned to the new Neo-classical style and soon numbered among its greatest practitioners. They furnished cases to the best clockmakers of the period, such as Montjoye, for whom they made cases for cartonnier and column clocks, the column being one of the favourite motifs of the Osmond workshop.