Rare Patinated and Burnished Gilt Bronze Mantle Clock
“Breguet Neveu et Cie N°2833”
The patinated bronze putto figure by Pierre-Philippe Thomire
Paris, Empire-Restoration period
– sold for 400 francs on June 5, 1852 to Monsieur Moukhanoff; this was no doubt Serge Moukhanoff, Grand equerry and Président du Comptoir des écuries at the Court of the Emperor of Russia (c.f. the Breguet certificate dated June 9, 2017).
The round silvered metal dial, signed “Breguet” and numbered “2833”, indicates the Roman numeral hours and the outermost minutes graduations by means of two blued steel Breguet hands. It is housed in a drum case whose bezel is adorned with bead friezes, and is supported by a child who is wearing draperies and is kneeling on one knee. The stepped circular base, placed on a quadrangular plinth, is decorated with a stylized laurel torus.
According to the archives of the Breguet firm, the most famous horological firm in Europe during the 19th century, the exceptionally well chased bronze putto was purchased by the Maison Breguet in 1813 from Pierre-Philippe Thomire, the most famous bronze caster of the time. This very unusual clock model, with its perfectly balanced design, was produced by the Maison Breguet beginning in the Empire period; only five examples were made.
Today only a very few examples are known to exist. One gilt bronze clock, whose dial is signed “Breguet et Fils”, was sold by Antiquorum in Genève on November 14, 2004, lot 87. A second example is illustrated in Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème Partie: du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1974, p. 396, fig. 3. One further such clock, which was described in January 1827 at the sale of the collection of Baron Dominique Vivant-Denon: “860. A small clock by Breguet; it is supported by a half-kneeling child; a pretty bronze figure that is very carefully chased and is gilt in heavy gold ducat gilding (or de ducat). This charming model, which was modeled by the late M. Van-Vaeyenberg, has been cast only five times. Height 17 inches”.
Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1757 - 1843)
Pierre-Philippe Thomire was the most important Parisian bronzier of the last quarter of the 18th century and the first decades of the following century. Early on in his career he worked for Pierre Gouthière, ciseleur-fondeur du roi, and toward the mid-1770’s began working with Louis Prieur. He later became one of the bronziers attached to the Manufacture Royale de Sèvres, creating the bronze mounts for most of the important creations of the day. After the Revolution, he purchased the stock of Martin-Eloi Lignereux, thus becoming the most important suppliers of furniture bronzes for châteaux and Imperial Palaces. In addition, he worked for a wealthy private clientele, both French and foreign, including several of Napoleon’s Marshals. Thomire retired in 1823.