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Coteau  -  Rémond  -  Kinable
Joseph Coteau (1740-1801)
François Rémond (circa 1747-1812)
Dieudonné Kinable (active circa 1790-1810)

Exceptional Enamel, Portor and White Carrara Marble, and Finely Chased Gilt Bronze Skeleton Clock


Dial signed “Kinable” for Parisian Clockmaker Dieudonné Kinable

Enamels signed by Joseph Coteau

Bronze mounts attributed to Master Bronze-Caster François Rémond

Paris, Directory period, circa 1795

Height67 cm Width44.5 cm Depth16.5 cm

Signature hidden at the bottom of the dial: “coteau



– Rothschild collection


The circular white enamel dial, highlighted in gold and translucent blue enamel, indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic numeral five-minute intervals and date, by means of three hands, two of which are made of pierced, chased, and gilt bronze. The dial bears two signatures: “Kinable”, that of the clockmaker, between the two winding holes, and “coteau”, that of the enameller, which is hidden at the very bottom of the dial beneath the bronze bezel decorated with pearls. The movement is housed in a finely chased matte gilt bronze case that is richly decorated with painted enamel scenes, medallions, and plaques; there is a bimetallic compensated pendulum. The clock is surmounted by two winged putti resting on clouds that hold stems issuing flower and leaf swags, which are attached by ribbons to other garlands that are held in the beaks of doves and descend laterally on either side of the clock. The bronze frame and mounts surround two lateral sky blue plaques that are adorned with translucent and iridescent beads, and four painted enamel scenes depicting episodes from the story of Eros and Psyche. In the upper part of the clock, an oval medallion shows Eros who is about to kiss the sleeping Psyche as she reclines among the clouds. Under the dial, a circular medallion depicts Psyche at her toilette, seated at her mirror in an interior, surrounded by putti. Below, at the base of each arch of the frame, two quadrangular enamel paintings within beaded frames represent Psyche sleeping in hell, and Psyche holding a lamp to look at her sleeping lover. The bases are adorned with detailed water leaf friezes. A rectangular entablature of Portor marble is decorated with a band of water leaves; its façade is adorned with a panel containing a low relief frieze of children playing, in the manner of Clodion. The entablature rests on a stepped white Carrara base with concave molding   and Portor marble embellished with knurled and leafy bands. The clock is raised upon four flattened ball feet.

The first skeleton clocks appeared during the final decade of the 18th century. These clocks were sober in design, with a main ring dial that revealed the beauty of the movements and gear trains, as well as the complex mechanisms made by the finest clockmakers in Europe. The new esthetic resulted from, on the one hand, the admiration of connoisseurs of horology for the exceptional technical progress that had been made since the mid-18th century, and on the other hand, collectors’ rejection of clocks depicting allegorical figures or figures from Greek and Roman mythology. The present remarkable clock was created in this particular context. Its design in the form of an arch was inspired by skeleton clocks with ring dials. It is a perfect example of the quintessence of Parisian luxury horology in the final years of the 18th century. The clockmaker, enameller, and bronze caster who created it counted among the most talented Parisian artisans of the time. To the best of our knowledge, only two other identical clocks are known; they feature several variations and are also signed by Kinable, who must have held the exclusive commercial rights to the model. These clocks are also attributed to, or signed by, the enameller Coteau, who often worked with Kinable. The first example, which features certain variations in the iconography of the enamel plaques, was offered at auction by Christie’s, Monaco, on June 19, 1988. The second was sold in London in 1964, and recently reappeared on the Paris art market during the exceptional sales of the collections housed in the Hôtel Lambert, formerly the Pari residence of Guy de Rothschild.

Joseph Coteau (1740 - 1801)

The most renowned enameller of his time, he worked with most of the best contemporary Parisian clockmakers. He was born in Geneva, where he was named master painter-enameler of the Académie de Saint Luc in 1766. Several years later he settled in Paris, and from 1772 to the end of his life, he was recorded in the rue Poupée. Coteau is known for a technique of relief enamel painting, which he perfected along with Parpette and which was used for certain Sèvres porcelain pieces, as well as for the dials of very fine clocks. Among the pieces that feature this distinctive décor are a covered bowl and tray in the Sèvres Musée national de la Céramique (Inv. SCC2011-4-2); a pair of “cannelés à guirlandes” vases in the Louvre Museum in Paris (see the exhibition catalogue Un défi au goût, 50 ans de création à la manufacture royale de Sèvres (1740-1793), Musée du Louvre, Paris, 1997, p. 108, catalogue n° 61); and a ewer and the “Comtesse du Nord” tray and bowl in the Pavlovsk Palace in Saint Petersburg (see M. Brunet and T. Préaud, Sèvres, Des origines à nos jours, Office du Livre, Fribourg, 1978, p. 207, fig. 250). A blue Sèvres porcelain lyre clock by Courieult, whose dial is signed “Coteau” and is dated “1785”, is in the Musée national du château in Versailles; it appears to be identical to the example mentioned in the 1787 inventory of Louis XVI’s apartments in Versailles (see Y. Gay and A. Lemaire, “Les pendules lyre”, in Bulletin de l’Association nationale des collectionneurs et amateurs d’Horlogerie ancienne, autumn 1993, n° 68, p. 32C).

François Rémond (circa 1747 - 1812)

Along with Pierre Gouthière, he was one of the most important Parisian chaser-gilders of the last third of the 18th century. He began his apprenticeship in 1763 and became a master chaser-gilder in 1774. His great talent quickly won him a wealthy clientele, including certain members of the Court. Through the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre, François Rémond was involved in furnishing the homes of most of the important collectors of the late 18th century, supplying them with exceptional clock cases, firedogs, and candelabra. These elegant and innovative pieces greatly contributed to his fame.

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.