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Époques: Consulat

  • Gaulin

    Important Gilt and Patinated Bronze Mantel Clock

    The American Indian Hunter


    Gaulin à Paris

    Paris, Directory-Consulate period, circa 1800

    Height50.5 Width37 Depth12.5

    The round enamel dial, signed “Gaulin à Paris”, indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic numeral fifteen-minute intervals by means of two gilt bronze hands. It is housed in a  finely chased gilt and patinated bronze case. The clock is surmounted by the figure of a black hunter wearing a feather headdress and loincloth, who holds a bow in his left hand and an arrow in his right, with a quiver of arrows slung across his chest. He is sitting on a pedestal that is decorated with a lion’s head and is supported on a chariot with four wheels that are decorated with pierced flower petals and is drawn by a chimera with a lion’s head and dragons’ wings, whose double tail ends in arrows; it holds the reins in its mouth. On the other side lies a dead eagle. The sloping quadrangular base is decorated with garlands hanging from pastilles, whose façade is adorned with an elaborate applied motif depicting a rocky landscape, a cabin, and palm trees, in which three young boys dressed in loincloths are hunting, fishing, and sitting with a dog. The oblong plinth is raised upon four flattened feet decorated with beading and double zigzags that are framed by guilloche work and centered by cabochons.

    During the late 18th century, encouraged by the philosophical writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who extolled the virtues of a return to Nature through the idea of the “noble savage”, the fashion for exoticism was encouraged by contemporary writers. The enormous literary success of works such as Bernardin de Saint-Pierre’s “Paul et Virginie” (published in 1788, it was a descendant of Daniel Defoe’s famous “Robinson Crusoe”), Marmontel’s novel “Les Incas”, which was published during the American War of Independence, and Chateaubriand’s “Atala”, published in 1801, profoundly changed Europeans’ attitudes toward other civilizations. They plunged the Old World into a deep romantic nostalgia related to the quest for a pagan Garden of Eden that would be regenerated by Christianity.

    As was often the case in the French decorative arts, this upheaval was to have important repercussions that were reflected in certain artistic creations, and particularly in horology. This was the context in which the present clock was created. No doubt an allegorical representation of the discovery of the New World, it was offered in two versions. In the first, the figure is seated on a boat that is decorated with a wolf mask (one such model is illustrated in the exhibition catalogue “De Noir et d’Or”, Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels, 1993). The second type is that of the present clock; a few similar examples are known to exist. One such clock is in the Musée du Nouveau Monde in La Rochelle; a second example is illustrated in G. and A. Wannenes, Les plus belles pendules françaises, De Louis XIV à l’Empire, Florence, 2013, p. 315. One further such clock is in the Musée François Duesberg in Mons (see Musée François Duesberg, Arts décoratifs 1775-1825, Bruxelles, 2004, p. 59).

    Lépine  -  Boizot
    Pierre-Claude Raguet-Lépine
    Louis-Simon Boizot (1743-1809)

    Rare Terra Cotta “Egyptian” Mantel Clock

    Egyptian Urania or Allegory of Geometry


    Terra Cotta Case Attributed to Louis-Simon Boizot or his Workshop

    Paris, Consulate period, circa 1800

    Height40 Width40 Depth20

    The round enamel dial, signed “Lepine Place Victoire”, indicates the hours in Roman numerals and the five-minute intervals in Arabic numerals, by means of two gilt bronze Breguet hands. The very fine case modelled entirely in patinated terra cotta; the gilt bronze bezel is chased with beading and a frieze of stylised motifs. The whole rests upon a fragmentary stele or antique cippus, that is engraved with Egyptian hieroglyphs and covered by a drapery issuing from the long tunic worn by the seated female figure. Her drapery partially reveals her breasts; she is wearing an Egyptian nemes headdress with a central star and a band with hieroglyphs on her forehead. She is turning toward the spectator and tracing a geometric figure on parchment with a stylus. At her feet lies a pole wrapped with a parchment that is covered with faint inscriptions. The base is treated naturalistically, in an imitation of rocks with scattered, stylised tufts of grass.

    The unusual design of this clock illustrates the influence of Egyptian culture on the French decorative arts, as a result of the well-known Egyptian Campaign led by Napoleon Bonaparte from 1798 to 1801. This campaign, the aim of which was to seize control of the Orient, gave rise to a new trend: Egyptomania, or the fascination by Europeans for the culture, the history, and arts of ancient Egypt. The clock’s material, terra cotta, is also unusual. At the time, the great majority of clocks were made of marble and gilt and/or patinated bronze. The fact that the present clock was modelled in terra cotta may suggest that the sculptor later intended to cast the model – though perfectly finished in its present state – in bronze, at a later date. This hypothesis is supported by the existence of a nearly identical type of clock in marble and bronze, an example of which is in the collections of the Geneva Musée d’art et d’histoire (illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 338).

    The attribution of this model to Louis-Simon Boizot or his workshop is suggested by the exceptional creativity of that workshop; Boizot was one of the principal proponents of the Egyptian style in Parisian horology at the time. He created several unusual clocks with Egyptian figures, which were subsequently cast by talented bronziers such as François Rémond. One such example was created by Boizot and cast by Rémond; it is today in the Prague Museum of Decorative Arts (see the exhibition catalogue Louis-Simon Boizot (1743-1809), Musée Lambinet, Versailles, 2002, p. 292).

    Pierre-Claude Raguet-Lépine

    Royal clockmaker Pierre-Claude Raguet, known as Raguet-Lépine after his father-in-law Jean-Antoine I Lépine, with whom he worked closely, he was born in Dôle, and in 1782 married Jean-Antoine’s daughter Pauline. Having already invested 16,000 livres in his future father-in law’s business, he purchased a third share in 1783 and eventually took over the business in June 1784, using the name “Lépine à Paris, Horloger du Roi”. Raguet-Lépine was a member of the jury responsible for choosing a new Republican time system (1793); in 1805 he became Horloger breveté de Sa Majesté l’Impératrice-Reine, and four years later was named Horloger de l’Impératrice Joséphine. His clientele included Napoleon I, Jérôme, King of Westphalia, Charles IV King of Spain, the princes Talleyrand, Kourakine (the Russian Ambassador) Schwarzenberg (the Austrian Ambassador), the comte de Provence and Louis XV’s daughters at the Château de Bellevue.

    Due to his success he employed a large workforce, including several of his relatives: Jean-Antoine II Lépine who managed the workshop, Jean-Louis Lépine in Geneva and Jacques Lépine in Kassel, Germany. His cases were supplied by the renowned bronziers Pierre-Philippe Thomire, F. Rémond, F. Vion, E. Martincourt, the Feuchères and Duports; his dials by such fine enamellists as Coteau, Dubuisson, Cave, Merlet and Barbichon. Today Raguet-Lépine’s work may be seen in the Louvre, the Château de Compiègne, the British Royal Collection, the Musée International d’Horlogerie at La Chaux-de-Fonds, the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum Furtwangen, the Schloss Wilhemshöhe Kassel, the Patrimonio Nacional in Spain, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

    Louis-Simon Boizot (1743 - 1809)

    The son of Antoine Boizot, a designer at the Gobelins tapestry manufacture, Boizot worked in the atelier of sculptor René-Michel Slodtz (1705–1764), who also trained Houdon. Boizot married Marguerite Virginie Guibert, the daughter of sculptor Honoré Guibert. In 1778 he was admitted to the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture and exhibited at the yearly salons until 1800. His portrait busts of Louis XVI and Joseph II were created in 1777 and made in bisque porcelain at Sèvres.

    From 1773 to 1800 Boizot directed the sculpture workshop of the Sèvres porcelain Manufactory, producing the series of unglazed biscuit figures with a matte finish resembling that of marble.

    Boizot also created terracotta designs for gilt-bronze clock cases, such as that of the allegorical “Avignon” clock in the Wallace Collection in London, which was cast and chased by Pierre Gouthière in 1777.

    In the same category
    Louis-François-Amable Molliens

    Rare Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock

    Allegory of Love and Fidelity”



    Paris, Consulate period, circa 1800

    Height48.5 Width32 Depth11.5

    The white enamel dial, signed “Molliens à Paris”, has Roman numeral hours and quarter-hour graduations for the minutes, indicated by two gilt bronze hands. The finely chased gilt bronze case depicts a young boy symbolising the figure of Love. Dressed in a belted tunic, he holds a torch in his upraised right hand and a bow in the other, with his wings and a flaming torch lying on the ground behind him. A dog symbolising Fidelity walks by his side, his collar attached to the boy’s wrist. The quadrangular terrace, adorned with a fringed drapery in which the dial is set, is supported by four tapering spirally decorated feet. On either side stand “athenienne” tripods with masked monopodia legs and ram’s feet; they are centred by flaming braziers. The rectangular base with rounded corners features reserves decorated with striated motifs and scrolling foliage.  The whole is raised upon six toupie feet that are finely chased with flowers and beading.

    This clock’s subject is one of the favourite themes of Parisian bronziers and clockmakers of the final years of the 18th century and the early years of the following century. The iconography demonstrates collectors’ renewed interest for the allegorical clocks inspired by antiquity that had been fashionable at the end of the Louis XV period, when Parisian decorative arts were renewed by the influence of the neoclassical style. This aesthetic trend, fed by the fascination with classical antiquity that developed during the reign of Louis XIV, encouraged by the mid-century archaeological discoveries of the ancient Roman cities of Pompey and Herculaneum, near Naples.

    Very few similar clocks are known; most feature small variations in their ornamentation. Among them, one example, featuring a patinated bronze dog, is illustrated in Pierre Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age à nos jours, Les éditions de l’amateur, Paris, 1997, p. 334, fig. A. A second example is in the Museo de relojes du Palais de la Atalaya in Jerez de la Frontera (illustrated in E. Niehüser, Die französische Bronzeuhr, Eine Typologie der figürlichen Darstellungen, Munich, 1997, p. 225, fig. 556).

    Louis-François-Amable Molliens

    Louis-François-Amable Molliens was a clockmaker whose workshop was recorded as being, successively, in the rue Saint-Honoré around 1800, then in the passage du Grand-Cerf between 1806 and 1815 (see Tardy, Dictionnaire des horlogers français, Paris, 1971, p. 469). He was well respected and his clocks were acquired by important late 18th century and early 19th century Parisian collectors. Clocks signed by Molliens are mentioned in the probate inventory of Charles-Louis de Reconseille and the Napoleonic Marshall Louis-Alexandre Berthier, Prince de Wagram.

    In the same category