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Époques: Directoire

  • Rare Gilt and Patinated Bronze Mantel Clock

    “Young Black Man Pushing a Wheelbarrow”


    Paris, Directoire period, circa 1800

    Height34.5 Width41 Depth12

    The round white enamel dial indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic numeral fifteen-minute intervals by means of two pierced gilt bronze hands. The finely chased and knurled bronze case is matte gilt and patinated. The bezel is adorned with a knurled frieze; the hour and half-hour striking movement is fitted into what appears to be a bale of cotton, which is placed on a wheelbarrow that is being pushed by a handsome patinated and gilt bronze figure depicting a young black man. The eyes of the young man are made of enamel; he is wearing a feathered hat and a pair of trousers and carries on his back a wicker basket in which he has placed his shirt. Perched opposite him, a parrot with finely chased feathers is turning its head toward the viewer. The group rests on a quadrangular architectural base with canted corners, that is elaborately adorned with applied low relief motifs including anchors, a trident and cords, as well as a central trophy with olive leaves, palms, a caduceus, stylized palmettes, and cornucopias symbolizing Sea Trade. The composition is supported on six sloping feet that are decorated with a delicate frieze and a plain molded torus.

    In the late 18th century, under the influence of the work of writers and philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who extolled the virtues of a return to Nature through the figure of the “noble savage”, exoticism became fashionable and was prominently featured in contemporary literature. Examples are the great literary success “Paul et Virginie” written by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre in 1788, a distant cousin of Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”, the novel “Les Incas” by Marmontel, which was published during the American Revolutionary War, and “Atala” by Chateaubriand (published in 1801). These books had a profound effect on Europeans’ attitudes toward other civilizations. They favored a current of nostalgia linked to the idea of the quest for a pagan garden of Eden that could be redeemed by Christianity, which strongly influenced European culture. As was often the case in the French decorative arts, this artistic and philosophical movement manifested itself in certain artistic creations, particularly in horological pieces and lighting instruments. The present clock, known as “Young Black Man pushing a Wheelbarrow”, was created within this context; it became very successful among influential horological collectors of the early 19th century.

    Among the small number of clocks of this type known to exist, one example is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen-Age à nos jours, Les éditions de l’Amateur, Paris, 1997, p. 344. Two other models, one whose dial is signed “Gillet horloger”, and the other “Hunziker rue de Bussy n°22”, are shown in the exhibition catalogue “De Noir et d’Or, Pendules ‘au bon sauvage’, Collection de M. et Mme François Duesberg”, Musée Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Musée Bellevue, Brussels, 1993.

    In the same category
    François Rémond (circa 1747-1812)

    Rare Pair of Gilt and Patinated Bronze Ewers with Matte and Burnished Finishing


    Attributed to François Rémond

    Paris, Directoire period, circa 1795

    Height41 Width17

    The neoclassical ewers, made of finely chased patinated and gilt bronze with matte and burnished finishing, have truncated oval bellies. Their upper portions are decorated with a stylized waterleaf frieze; they have wide, spreading necks. Their slightly curved spouts are adorned with acanthus leaves and ribbon-tied oak leaf garlands that frame river-themed male masks. The handles are in the form of magnificent, lightly draped putti who stand on a double curved acanthus leaf. The lower portion, adorned with a bouquet of finely detailed water leaves, rests on a finely gadrooned ring and a plain pedestal that is decorated with a band of cabochon-centered latticework and a torus of slanting cords alternating with beadwork friezes. The quadrangular molded base is adorned with a leaf and seed frieze.

    The rare and unusual design of the present pair of ewers, and the quality of its chasing and gilding, allow it to be attributed to François Rémond, one of the most important Parisian artisans of the final decades of the 18th century. The ewers’ design, as well as their handles in the form of nude standing figures, is reminiscent of a pair of chased gilt bronze and Sèvres porcelain ewers that are part of the Wallace Collection in London (see H. Jacobsen, Gilded Interiors, Parisian Luxury & the Antique, published contemporaneously with the exhibition “Gilded Interiors: French Masterpieces of Gilt Bronze”, The Wallace Collection, London, 2017, p. 64-67). A second pair of ewers, whose handles are in the form of satyrs and mermaids, bearing the signature of Pierre Gouthière and the date 1767, are in the Frick Art and Historical Center in Pittsburgh (illustrated in C. Vignon and C. Baulez, Pierre Gouthière ciseleur-doreur du roi, The Frick Collection, New York, 2017, p. 164-165, catalogue n° 4). Today only a few identical pairs of ewers are known. Among them, one pair was offered at auction in Paris in the early 1970s (sold Palais Galliera, Couturier-Nicolay, June 10, 1971, lot 145). A second pair, acquired in March 1934, and bearing the inventory marking “B 248” with a Phrygian cap, is part of the Mobilier national in Paris (Inventaire GML-4510-001/002).

    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.

    In the same category

    Important Nine-Light Chandelier in Gilt and Patinated Bronze and Cut and Faceted Crystal or Glass


    Paris, Directoire period, circa 1795-1800

    Height114 Diamètre72

    The upper tier is decorated with curved elements that terminate in star motifs; the stem, adorned with arabesque motifs terminating in scrolling, supports a magnificent patinated and gilt bronze vase after the antique; its mid-portion features a band to which are fixed three female masks wearing stylised headdresses; the nine curved branches that support the nozzles issue from them, three by three. The lower portion of the vase is adorned with a gadrooned motif and a stylised bunch of grapes emerging from a bouquet of leaves. The chandelier is richly adorned with cut and faceted crystal or glass elements that form garlands and pendants.

    The unusual design of the present chandelier is typical of the Directory era during which it was created. During this brief period, the Parisian decorative arts, while still heavily marked by the neoclassical style of the reign of Louis XVI, began to be show the influence of decorative motifs that would become extremely important during the Empire period. Indeed, the design differs from that of most other known models from the same period. The gilt and patinated central element and the rare cut crystal or glass elements are reminiscent of the luxurious creations of the second half of the 18th century.

    Only a few similar examples are known today. Among them are a pair of chandeliers that were delivered in 1804 to the Empress’s salon in Fontainebleau castle (see J-P. Samoyault, Musée national du château de Fontainebleau, Catalogue des collections de mobilier, 1. Pendules et bronze d’ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire, Paris, RMN, p. 100, catalogue n° 64); and two similar models, the first of which was formerly in the Bickert collection (sold in Paris, Me Baudoin, December 3-4, 1934, lot 134) and the second of which appeared on the market at the sale of the collection of the Countess de Castellane and various other connoisseurs (sold Sotheby’s, Monaco, December 9, 1995, lot 244). Another comparable yet larger chandelier is in the dining room of the Maisons château, formerly the property of Louis XVI’s brother, the Comte d’Artois (illustrated in the exhibition La folie d’Artois à Bagatelle, 1988, p. 83).

    Rare Pair of Chased and Gilt Bronze Candlesticks


    Paris, Directoire period, circa 1795

    Height33 Width16

    This large pair of finely chased gilt bronze candlesticks is a rare example from a particularly brief period in 18th century French decorative arts: the Directoire. It marks the aesthetic transition from the sophisticated neoclassical style of the late Louis XVIth period to the powerful and virile style of the Empire. The tall and tapering fluted stems appear to emerge from a ring of stylised flowerets. They terminate in octagonal capitals that are decorated with beading and are centred by stylised rosettes within squares. The finely fluted candleholders modelled as antique vases, which are also adorned with beading and stylised leaves, and terminate in octagonal drip pans with beaded borders. The spreading feet, with narrow fluting, rest upon a moulded octagonal base with beading or braided motifs.

    While the design of this rare pair of candlesticks is inspired by the work of certain Parisian ornamentalists of the Louis XVI period such as Jean-Charles Delafosse (see G. Henriot, Le luminaire, de la Renaissance au XIXe siècle, 1933, plate 169), it also looks forward to models that were particularly popular during the Napoleonic period. Among the similar pairs of candlesticks made during the Empire, one pair was made by the bronzier Claude Galle for le Grand Trianon in 1809 (illustrated in M-F. Dupuy-Baylet, L’Heure, Le Feu, La Lumière, Les bronzes du Mobilier national 1800-1870, Dijon, 2010, p. 65); a second pair, with octagonal stems, candleholders and bases, was mentioned in an 1807 inventory in the Salle du Conseil of the Fontainebleau Palace (illustrated in J-P. Samoyault, Musée national du château de Fontainebleau, Catalogue des collections du mobilier, 1-Pendules et bronze d’ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire, RMN, Paris, p. 194, catalogue n° 181).

    Robin  -  Dubuisson  -  Schwerdfeger
    Robert Robin (1741-1799)
    Dubuisson (1731-1815)
    Ferdinand Schwerdfeger (1734-1818)

    Exceptional Mantel or Desk Clock

    “Regulator with Remontoir d’Egalité” 


    The Case Attributed to the Cabinetmaker Jean-Ferdinand-Joseph Schwerdfeger

    Paris, Directory-Consulate period, circa 1795

    Height44 Width24.5 Depth19.5


    – Probably the clock that was estimated at 500 francs in 1830 in the study of the well-known porcelain manufacturer Christophe Dihl (1752-1830): “A regulator by Robin à Paris, with seconds and date, compensation balance with thermometer, in a glazed mahogany case”.


    The enamel dial, signed “Robin”, also bears the mark “dub”, which is that of Etienne Gobin, known as Dubuisson (1731-1815), a celebrated Parisian enameler who was a contemporary and rival of Joseph Coteau. It indicates the Roman numeral hours, the minutes graduations, the seconds, and the annual calendar, with indication of the date and the months of the year, as well as the equation of time, which shows the difference between true time and mean time. Its remarkable movement with complications has a Graham escapement and a constant force remontoir d’égalité, a bimetallic gridiron pendulum with a pyrometer that bears information on the temperature of dilation of metal, and two weights for the going train. The mahogany or mahogany-veneered architectural case has a slightly protruding cornice and is glazed on all sides, which allows the remarkable and complex movement to be viewed. The clock is elegantly adorned with finely chased matte-gilded bronze mounts. The entablature of the cornice is decorated with a molding chased with water leaves and adorned with an egg-and-dart frieze. The glazed panels are framed by twisted cord and stylized leaf friezes. The top spandrels feature scrolls and vine leaves, and a magnificent fringed drapery and leafy garland highlight the curve of the dial. The molded protruding base is adorned with a frieze of parsley leaves. The clock is raised upon four quadrangular gilt bronze feet.

    In addition to its highly precise movement with complications and its excellent craftsmanship, the present clock is noteworthy for its polished mahogany architectural case, whose sober design was intended to showcase the ingenious and extraordinary mechanism, as well as the beauty of the dial. One particular cabinetmaker specialized in creating such cases toward the end of the 18th century: Ferdinand Schwerdfeger (1734-1818). Schwerdfeger was mentioned several times as “Ferdinand” in several early 19th century auctions. Upon the death of his wife in 1803, his workshop was described as containing almost exclusively mahogany clock cases. It was Schwerdfeger who made the case for the geographic clock that Antide Janvier presented in 1791 to King Louis XVI, which is today in the Musée national du château de Fontainebleau (illustrated in M. Hayard, Antide Janvier 1751-1835, Horloger des étoiles, p. 1995, p. 79). It was very likely the same cabinetmaker – who also made luxury furniture for pour Marie-Antoinette – who was entrusted with the creation of the case of the present clock, whose design is particularly remarkable. Today only a few comparable clocks are known to exist. One example, signed Lepaute, whose design is less elegant, was delivered in 1804; it was intended for the bedchamber of Napoleon at Fontainebleau Palace (illustrated in J-P. Samoyault, Pendules et bronzes d’ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire, Paris, 1989, p. 73). A second clock, signed “Robin”, is illustrated in Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème partie: du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1975, p. 325.

    Robert Robin (1741 - 1799)

    Having become a master horologist in November 1767, he was one of the most important Parisian horologists of the last third of the 18th century. He received the honorary titles of Valet de Chambre-Horloger Ordinaire du Roi et de la Reine in 1783 and 1786. He enjoyed an extraordinary career, distinguishing himself by his exceptional contribution toward the improvement of time measuring instruments.

    In 1778, the Academy of Sciences approved two of his inventions, one of which led to the construction of an astronomic clock with a meridian traced on a pyramid, which was acquired by the Menus Plaisirs for Louis XVI that same year; Robin published a very detailed historical and mechanical description of that clock. He also made mantel regulators with astronomic indications and compensation balance, of which the Marquis de Courtanvaux, a man of science and a great connoisseur of precision horology, was one of the earliest acquirers. During the Revolution he made decimal watches and clocks. He worked in the Grande rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré (1772), the rue des Fossés-Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois (1775), the rue Saint-Honoré in the l’Hôtel d’Aligre (1778) and the Galeries du Louvre in 1786.

    For his desk regulators, Robin chose very sober architectural cases, which look extraordinarily modern to contemporary viewers. He always worked with the finest artisans of the day, including the bronziers and chasers Robert and Jean Baptiste Osmond, Pierre Philippe Thomire, François Rémond and Claude Galle, the cabinetmakers Jean-Henri Riesener, Ferdinand Schwerdfeger and Adam Weisweiler, the enamellers Barbezat, Dubuisson, Merlet and Coteau for the dials, and Richard and Montginot for the springs.

    Robert Robin’s two sons, Nicolas Robert (1775-1812) and Jean-Joseph (1781-1856), were also fine clockmakers and ably continued to run their father’s workshop.

    Dubuisson (1731 - 1815)

    Étienne Gobin, known as Dubuisson, was one of the best enamellers working in Paris during the latter part of the 18th century and the early 19th century. During the mid 1750’s he was employed at Sèvres, then opened his own workshop, being recorded in the 1790’s in the rue de la Huchette and, circa 1812, in the rue de la Calandre. Specializing in enamelled watch cases and clock dials, he is known for his great skill and attention to detail.

    Ferdinand Schwerdfeger (1734 - 1818)

    Ferdinand Schwerdfeger is one of the most important Parisian cabinetmakers of the late 18th century. After becoming a master in May 1786, he opened a workshop in Paris and quickly gained a following. His work, however, remains little known due to his becoming a master shortly before the Revolution, and to the fact that he rarely stamped his work. Among the pieces that may be attributed to him with certitude, one should mention an ensemble delivered to Marie-Antoinette, as well as several regulator and clock cases for some of the finest horologists of the day, including Antide Janvier, Jean-Simon Bourdier and Robert Robin (see M-A Paulin, Schwerdfeger, ébéniste de Marie-Antoinette, in L’Estampille/L’Objet d’art, October 2003).

    In the same category
    Jean-Simon Deverberie (1764-1824)

    Rare Gilt and Patinated Bronze Mantel Clock

    “The African Huntress”


    Attributed to Jean-Simon Deverberie

    Paris, Directory-Consulate period, circa 1800

    Height45.5 Width35.5 Depth14

    The round white enamel dial indicates the Arabic numeral hours and the Arabic numeral fifteen-minute intervals by means of two engraved or pierced bronze hands. It is housed in a chased and gilt and patinated bronze case. The bezel is adorned with delicate stylized and bead friezes. The clock is surmounted by a magnificent female figure – a seated black huntress who is wearing a feather loincloth, with a quiver containing feathered arrows slung across her chest. Her curly hair is held in place by a silvered headband and her glass eyes are naturalistic. She is wearing necklaces, rings, earrings, and ankle bracelets; in her right hand she holds an arrow and in her left, a bow. Her left foot rests upon a turtle with a finely chased shell. On the opposite side, a seated lioness turns toward the huntress. The high, sloping and molded architectural base is decorated with ribbon-tied flower and leaf garlands, a bead frieze and an applied scene depicting young cherubs who are hunting and fishing. The clock is raised upon six finely chased feet.

    Black figures were rarely used as a decorative theme in French and European horology before the late 18th century. It was not until the end of the Ancien Régime, and precisely the last decade of the 18th century and the early years of the following century, that the first “au nègre” or “au sauvage” clocks appeared. They echoed a philosophical current that was developed in several important literary and historical works, including Paul et Virginie by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (published in 1787, it depicts the innocence of Man), Atala by Chateaubriand (which restores the Christian ideal), and particularly Daniel Defoe’s 1719 masterpiece, Robinson Crusoe. The original drawing of the present clock, entitled “L’Afrique”, was registered by Parisian chaser-caster Jean-Simon Deverberie in the year VII (illustrated in Dominique and Pascal Flechon, “La pendule au nègre”, in Bulletin de l’association nationale des collectionneurs et amateurs d’horlogerie ancienne, Spring 1992, n° 63, p. 32, photo n° 2).

    Among the known identical clocks one model, whose dial is signed “Gaulin à Paris”, is pictured in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 381, fig. 5.15.25. A second model, featuring variations including the fact that the figure stands on an arch, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age à nos jours, Paris, 1997, p. 350. One further example, whose dial is signed “Ridel”, is in the Musée François Duesberg in Mons (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue “De noir et d’or, Pendules « au bon sauvage”, Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Brussels, 1993).

    Jean-Simon Deverberie (1764 - 1824)

    Jean-Simon Deverberie was one of the most important Parisian bronziers of the late 18th century and the early decades of the following century.  Deverberie, who was married to Marie-Louise Veron, appears to have specialized at first in making clocks and candelabra that were adorned with exotic figures, and particularly African figures. Around 1800 he registered several preparatory designs for “au nègre” clocks, including the “Africa”, “America”, and “Indian Man and Woman” models (the drawings for which are today preserved in the Cabinet des Estampes in the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris). He opened a workshop in the rue Barbette around 1800, in the rue du Temple around 1804, and in the rue des Fossés du Temple between 1812 and 1820.

    In the same category
    Ridel  -  Coteau
    Laurent Ridel
    Joseph Coteau (1740-1801)

    Exceptional Gilt Bronze, Enamel, and Carrara Marble Three-Dial Skeleton Clock with Complications and Matte and Burnished Finishing


    The Enamels by Joseph Coteau

    France, Directory period, circa 1795

    Height52 Width29 Depth15

    The main white enamel ring dial reveals a portion of the finely finished mechanism. It indicates the Arabic numeral hours, fifteen-minute intervals, and Republican date graduated from 1 to 30, by means of three hands, two of which are made of pierced and gilt bronze, and one of which is of blued steel. It also indicates the days of the week and their corresponding zodiac signs by means of a central hand. A second white enamel ring dial, set under the first, designates the months with their corresponding number of days; it is elaborately decorated with crossed torches, flowering branches, wheat sheaves and grape vines, symbolizing the four seasons. A third dial, placed in the upper portion of the clock, indicates the age and phases of the moon on two enamel discs, one of which is adorned with an oval medallion with a central altar. The eight-day going movement, with outer count wheel, two barrels, and knife-edge suspension, strikes the hours and half hours. The pendulum is adorned with a magnificent Apollo mask surrounded by sunrays.

    The three dials are fitted within a framework that is painted on enamel with a blue background, featuring gold, silver, and translucent highlights in the form of leaf scrolls and arabesques, and beadwork flowers. The façade features a central cartouche bearing the signature “Ridel à Paris”. The clock is elaborately embellished with chased and engine-turned gilt bronze mounts, including bead friezes and cord motifs. The four curved arches are set on tall, truncated columns with molded bases. The quadrangular white Carrara marble base is decorated with a delicate frieze of alternating round and elongated beads; its façade is adorned with a panel in the manner of Clodion, depicting putti. The clock is raised upon five toupie feet with engine turned decoration.

    The first skeleton clocks appeared during the final decade of the 18th century. These clocks featured an elegant, sober design, with a main ring dial that revealed the delicate and complex movement and its lovely and elaborate wheel trains. These movements were produced by the finest European clockmakers, including several Parisian horologists. The new esthetic trend was influenced on the one hand by clock collectors’ interest in the extraordinary technical progress that had taken place since the mid 18th century, and on the other hand by the increasing lack of demand for clocks adorned with Allegorical figures from classical mythology. The present clock was made within that particular context; its sophisticated design is on a par with that of the finest French clocks made during the final decade of the 18th century.

    Among the small number of comparable clocks, one example with four dials is in the Royal Spanish Collection (see J. Ramon Colon de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio nacional, Madrid, 1987, p. 95, catalogue n° 78). A second clock, in a private collection, is illustrated in the exhibition catalogue La Révolution dans la mesure du Temps, Calendrier républicain heure décimale 1793-1805, Musée international d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, 1989, p. 58, catalogue n° 19. A third clock, signed “Folin l’aîné à Paris”, is in the Getty Museum in Malibu (illustrated in G. Wilson and C. Hess, Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 2001, p. 74, fig. 145). One further similar clock, whose dial is signed “Laguesse à Liège” with enamels by Joseph Coteau that are dated 1796, is in Pavlovsk Palace in Saint Petersburg (see E. Ducamp, Pavlovsk, Les Collections, 1993, p. 186, pl. 17). One final example, nearly identical to the present clock, which also bears the signature of Laurent Ridel, has enamels by Joseph Coteau that are dated 1796 and indicates the Republican date. It is in the François Duesberg Museum in Mons (see Musée François Duesberg, Arts décoratifs 1775-1825, Brussels, 2004, p. 103).

    Laurent Ridel

    Laurent Ridel, one of the most important Parisian clockmakers of the late 18th century and the early years of the 19th century, signed his works “Ridel à Paris”. Although the date at which he became a master is not known, we know he opened a workshop in the rue aux Ours and quickly became successful among Parisian collectors of luxury horology. Like all the finest clockmakers of the period, Ridel obtained his cases from the best artisans of the day, including the bronziers Feuchère, Denière and Deverberie, the enamelers Coteau and Merlet, and the spring maker Monginot l’aîné. He soon gained a wealthy and discerning clientele, among them Jean-Marie Chamboissier, the jeweler Louis-Nicolas Duchesne, and Mesdames de France – the daughters of Louis XV – for whom Ridel made a clock in 1789 that was intended for their palace in Bellevue.

    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).

    Joseph-Marie Revel (?-1811)

    Rare Gilt Bronze Cage Clock



    Paris, Directoire period, circa 1795

    Height42.5 Width26.5 Depth17.5

    The enamel dial, signed Revel, indicates the hours in Roman numerals, the minutes and date in Arabic numerals. The superb glazed architectural case is in finely chased gilt bronze. The arched pediment is ornamented with gadrooning and beading, with four pinecone finials; a pierced and fringed drapery hangs under the dial; the sides are composed of finely fluted pilasters with moulded bases and capitals. The stepped rectangular base is adorned with a pierced palmette and leaf frieze.

    The elegant composition of this clock bears witness to the aesthetic explorations of Parisian bronziers and clockmakers of the last quarter of the 18th century. As of the mid-century a new artistic current, encouraged by artists and influential collectors, drew inspiration from recent events such as the discoveries of the ancient Roman cities of Pompey and Herculaneum. Enthusiastic collectors such as the Count of Caylus and Ange-Laurent Lalive de Jully gave a new impulse to the French decorative arts, still marked by the rococo style in vogue during the Louis XV period. Influenced by the forms and decorative vocabulary of Greek and Roman antiquity, the new Neo-classical style favoured pure lines and classical motifs such as the antique borne or cippus that gives its form to the present clock. The new style showcased the skill of the period’s remarkable artisans, as well as the mastery of many different materials.

    Among the comparable examples known, two slightly later models feature chasing of lesser quality. The first, signed Carcel jeune, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age à nos jours, Paris, 1997, p. 184; a second clock was delivered in September 1807 to the Fontainebleau Palace by Lepaute, uncle and nephew; it is still in the Fontainebleau collection. (see J-P. Samoyault, Musée national du château de Fontainebleau, Catalogue des collections de mobilier, 1. Pendules et bronze d’ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire, RMN, Paris, 1989, p. 65, catalogue n° 26). An identical clock, also signed Revel, was formerly in the collection of Peter Zervudachi; another signed Lepaute is in a private collection (illustrated in P. Heuer and K. Maurice, European Pendulum Clocks, Decorative Instruments of measuring Time, Munich, 1988, p. 65, fig. 108).

    Joseph-Marie Revel (? - 1811)

    Very little is known about this clockmaker, who was nevertheless very famous during his lifetime. Briefly mentioned in the Tardy’s Dictionnaire des horlogers under the name of Joseph Revel, he was actually named Joseph-Marie; he died in Paris in 1811. After becoming a master on August 12, 1775, he opened a workshop in the Vieille rue du Temple, and was mentioned in the Palais Royal from 1787 to 1790, in the Palais Egalité around 1800, and in the Palais Tribunat from 1804 to 1806. Several probate inventories dating from the early decades of the 19th century mention a number of his clocks; a clock by Revel was estimated in 1817 after the death of Adélaïde de Lespinasse-Langeac, the wife of the chevalier de Costalin; in 1821 another was in the collection of the Countess de Medem, Anne-Charlotte-Dorothée, the widow of the powerful Duke de Courlande.