search icon

Époques: Directoire

  • Sauvage
    Piat-Joseph Sauvage (1744-1818)

    Exceptional Large Rectangular Plaque in Hard-Paste Porcelain with Painted Trompe-l’œil Decoration Imitating Bronze

    “The Offering to Minerva”

    Plaque001-01_HD_PRESSE copie (1)

    Dihl et Guérhard Manufacture, known as the Manufactory of the Duke d’Angoulême

    Paris, late 18th century, 1797-1798

    Signed and dated: Sauvage in.f. (invenit fecit) Manufre Guerhard & Dihl an 6

    Dimension without frame :
    Height34 cm Width84 cm

    Provenance:

    – Patureau collection (sold Paris, April 7, 1834, lot 37): “Sauvage (signed), Guerard and Dhill manufactory. Two pictures in the form of a frieze, representing a sacrifice to Minerva, and children at play. These two unique articles merit the full attention of connoisseurs.

    -sold Paris, Maître Delestre, Hôtel Drouot, November 15, 1886, lot 31: “Two large rectangular plaques in porcelain from Guerhard and Dihl, decorated with subjects simulating bas-reliefs in bronze painted by Sauvage, representing an offering to Minerva and children’s games”.

    – Hector Le Fuel collection, by descent.

     

    Exhibition:

    Probably the bas-relief imitation bronze painted on porcelain for the Dihl and Guérhard Manufactory, known as “the factory of the Duke d’Angoulême”, listed under the number 362 at the Salon of 1 thermidor year VI (July 19, 1798) at the Museum Central des Arts (today the Musée du Louvre).

     

    This hard-paste porcelain plaque, very large in size, features a rectangular composition with magnificent trompe-l’œil decoration imitating a low-relief bronze plaque in shades of gold and brown on a white ground, meant to accentuate the impression of perspective and the volume of the figures. The scene is presented as a classical frieze with the statue of Minerva in the center; she is sitting on an altar that is decorated with a ribbon tied torus and several putti. The goddess, shown in profile, is dressed in Roman-style garb; she wears a helmet surmounted by a sphinx and holds a lance in her right hand and a laurel wreath in the other. She is an allegory of Wisdom, Peace, and the Arts. On the ground, which runs the entire length of the picture, are a wicker basket full of flowers, a few roses, a ewer whose belly is adorned with spiral fluting, a brasero with arabesque feet, and children. On either side of the figure there are nymphs, children, and putti in various positions, who are worshipping the goddess. From left to right, one putto is playing a hunting horn, a nymph is offering a flower bouquet to the statue, and a second kneeling putto is placing a vase with applied handles at the statue’s foot. A child is holding aloft a tray of fruits, while, opposite, a putto who is looking toward the viewer holds a bouquet of flowers, a nymph holds a rose in her right hand, while with her left hand she holds the hand of a child with a dove. Another nymph is playing the lyre, while behind her a putto is bending under the weight of a heavy urn it bears on its head. The picture is set in a sculpted and gilt wood frame featuring a frieze of stylized leaves and beadwork; the scene is further adorned with a waterleaf frieze.

    This plaque, which is unusually large and is exceptional for the quality of its execution, may be considered one of the masterpieces of the Parisian decorative arts of its time. It also represents the height of the technical, esthetic, and decorative achievements of French manufactories. Beginning in the first half of the 18th century, they sought to compete with their German rivals, and particularly the Meissen factory. The plaque is an excellent example of the collaboration between the painter Piat-Joseph Sauvage, one of the finest artists of his time, and the Dihl and Guérhard Manufactory, which was one of the most famous and innovative of French porcelain manufactories during the period. This association of talents was responsible for some of the most beautiful painted porcelain plaques created in Paris in the final years of the 18th century and the early years of the 19th century. We know of two plaques, made by Dihl and Guérhard and signed Sauvage, that depict Minerva giving a “lesson of folly” and Venus giving a “lesson of wisdom”; they were shown at the Salon of 1800 and today are in the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Tournai. There is also a third plaque that is quite large, though slightly smaller than the present plaque, and is decorated with scenes of putti at play. It was presented at the 1797 Exhibition of the Products of Industry and is today in the Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire in Brussels (see C. Froissart and J. Whitehead, “Le peintre Piat-Joseph Sauvage et la porcelain”, in Les Cahiers de Mairemont, 32-33, 2005, p. 35-39).

    As concerns the present plaque specifically, it appears to have been presented by the Dihl and Guérhard Manufactory at the Salon of 1 thermidor of the year VI (July 1798) held at the Muséum Central des Arts. Among several high-quality painted porcelain plaques, there was one that represented a bas-relief imitating bronze, painted by Sauvage (n° 362, fig. 3). Though the plaque was mentioned only briefly with few details given, according to the description it may well be the present plaque, which was subsequently in the Patureau collection in April 1834, and was then offered at an anonymous sale at the Hôtel Drouot in November 1886. It eventually became part of the Hector Lefuel collection and was preserved by his descendants. At the time of the two sales in Paris, in 1834 and 1886, the plaque which formed its pendant depicted “children’s games”, and it is possible that the plaque now in Brussels, which is similar in size, may have been the pendant to the present plaque, and that the two were associated during the first few decades of the 19th century. This hypothesis seems to be corroborated by the fact that the two sales catalogues do not mention them as a pair but refer to them as “two paintings” and “two large plaques”.

    Piat-Joseph Sauvage (1744 - 1818)

    Was a Belgian painter, member of the Académie Royale in 1781, who became famous for his trompe-l’œil works imitating sculpture. In the 1780s, he participated in the decoration of the interiors of the royal châteaux of Rambouillet and Versailles, creating paintings on several different media, and using materials such as marble, ivory, and porcelain, and taking his inspiration from Greek and Roman antiquity and the classical vocabulary. As of 1797, he began to work with the Parisian Manufactory of Dihl and Guérhard, known as the “factory of the Duke d’Angoulême”, for in 1781 that aristocrat became its patron. He entrusted the direction of the factory to Christophe Erasmus Dihl and the Guérhard couple, who turned the factory into the main rival of the Sèvres Manufactory. The works produced by the factory with the participation of the painter Sauvage, were shown at prestigious exhibitions. Today the extant plaques made by them are extremely rare and generally to be found in prestigious French and international museums.



    In the same category

    Rare Pair of Medici Vases made of Lacquered and Patinated Sheet Metal and Gilt Bronze with Matte and Burnished Finishing

    Vases021-03_HD_WEB

    Paris, late 18th century, circa 1790-1800

    Height45 cm Diamètre32 cm

    Made entirely of finely chased gilt bronze with matte and burnished finishing and lacquered sheet metal imitating patinated bronze, the vases have an elaborate form that was inspired by the famous Medici vase now in the Uffizi Museum in Florence. The lips are adorned with friezes made up of lambrequins and reserves alternating with acanthus leaves; the necks are embellished with friezes depicting children playing among the clouds, placed between plain burnished bands; The applied handles in the form of half-lyres terminate in scrolling centered by mobile fluted rings; ram’s heads adorn the shoulders of the vases, which are decorated with bead friezes. The lower portions of the vases are embellished with wide acanthus leaf bouquets that alternate with seeded laurel garlands. The pedestals, adorned with knops decorated with wheat sheaves and beadwork, are highlighted by ribbon-tied laurel toruses. The molded quadrangular bases are adorned with stylized friezes with acanthus leaves.

    The present pair of vases was inspired by the work of several important Parisian bronziers of the second half of the 18th century, and particularly by the so-called “ram’s head” models created by Pierre Gouthière (1732-1813) for the Duke d’Aumont, who was one of the most famous Parisian collectors of the day (see C. Vignon and C. Baulez, Pierre Gouthière: ciseleur-doreur du roi, Mare/Martin, 2016). Contemporary sources, among them the records of auctions that took place during the early years of the 19th century, mention several pairs of vases that are similar to the present pair. Among them, one pair was described in the sale held after the closing of Monsieur Rolland’s shop specializing in drawings and prints, on March 22, 1830: “76. Vases, Medici form, adorned with a band depicting a frieze of children’s games, scrolling handles, rings, and ram’s heads, pedestal base, chased gilt bronze torus”.  A second pair, which may be the present pair, was offered at auction in late 1803: “31. Two vases, Medici form, varnished sheet metal, with low-relief friezes of children’s games, garnished with ram’s head handles and rings, bottoms and leaves, elaborately decorated pedestals and bases in gilt bronze. Total height 17 inches”. Today a small number of identical vases are known; among them one pair was formerly in the collection of Monsieur António de Sommer Champalimaud (1918-2004), who was a Portuguese banker and industrialist; his collection was sold in London in the mid 2000s.

    Galle
    Claude Galle (1759-1815)

    Important Patinated and Matte Gilt Bronze and Green Marble Mantel Clock

    The Meeting of Robinson Crusoe and Friday”

    Pendule433-03_HD_WEB

    Case Attributed to Claude Galle

    Paris, Directoire period, circa 1800

    Height53.5 cm Width35.5 cm Depth14 cm

    The round white enamel dial, indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic numeral five-minute intervals by means of two blued steel Breguet hands. The bezel is adorned with leaf and bead friezes. The movement is housed in a rectangular case with canted corners that is made of finely chased gilt bronze with low-relief motifs. On the sides, goats standing on their hind legs are eating grapes; the façade is decorated with scenes depicting a despairing Robinson Crusoe under an improvised tent as a storm rages around him; another scene shows Crusoe building a boat near a lemon tree.  The corners of the case are adorned with barrels issuing stylized cactuses. On the plinth, which is depicted as a naturalistic terrain, the young native Friday, posing with one knee on the ground, meets Robinson Crusoe, clad in goatskins and holding a parasol in his right hand and a rifle in the other. Behind Friday there is a lemon tree with golden fruit, upon which a parrot is perched. The clock rests on a green marble rectangular base with canted corners, which is embellished with a frieze of alternating stiff leaves and stems. It is raised upon four flattened ball feet.

    Directly inspired by Daniel Defoe’s famous novel, which was published in 1719, the present clock is one of the finest and most successful examples of the latter part of the 18th century. Today very few identical models are known. Among them, one example is illustrated in P. Heuer and K. Maurice, European Pendulum Clocks, Decorative Instruments of Measuring Time, Munich, 1988, p. 92, fig. 159. A second clock, with a red griotte marble base, is pictured in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Les éditions de l’Amateur, Paris, 1997, p. 359. A third example, with a marble base, is shown in G. and A. Wannenes, Les plus belles pendules françaises, De Louis XIV à l’Empire, Editions Polistampa, Florence, 2013, p. 307. A fourth clock, with a gilt base, is on display in the Pitti Palace in Florence. Two further comparable clocks, one with an original and unique design, and both with dials signed “Leclerc à Bruxelles”, are in the Musée François Duesberg in Mons (see Musée François Duesberg, Arts décoratifs 1775-1825, Bruxelles, 2004, p. 64-65).

    Claude Galle (1759 - 1815)

    One of the foremost bronziers and fondeur-ciseleurs of the late Louis XVI and Empire periods, Claude Galle was born at Villepreux near Versailles. He served his apprenticeship in Paris under the fondeur Pierre Foy, and in 1784 married Foy’s daughter. In 1786 he became a maitre-fondeur. After the death of  his father-in-law in 1788, Galle took over his workshop, soon turning it into one the finest, and employing approximately 400 craftsmen. Galle moved to Quai de la Monnaie (later Quai de l’Unité), and then in 1805 to 60 Rue Vivienne.

    The Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, under the direction of sculptor Jean Hauré from 1786-88, entrusted him with many commissions. Galle collaborated with many excellent artisans, including Pierre-Philippe Thomire, and furnished the majority of the furnishing bronzes for the Château de Fontainebleau during the Empire. He received many other Imperial commissions, among them light fittings, figural clock cases, and vases for the palaces of Saint-Cloud, the Trianons, the Tuileries, Compiègne, and Rambouillet. He supplied several Italian palaces, such as Monte Cavallo, Rome and Stupinigi near Turin.

    In spite of his success, and due in part to his generous and lavish lifestyle, as well as to the failure of certain of his clients (such as the Prince Joseph Bonaparte) to pay what they owed, Galle often found himself in financial difficulty. Galle’s business was continued by his son after his death by his son, Gérard-Jean Galle (1788-1846). Today his work may be found in the world’s most important museums and collections, those mentioned above, as well as the Musée National du Château de Malmaison, the Musée Marmottan in Paris, the Museo de Reloges at Jerez de la Frontera, the Residenz in Munich, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.



    In the same category

    Rare Gilt and Patinated Bronze Mantel Clock

    “Young Black Man Pushing a Wheelbarrow”

    Pendule421-02_HD_PRESSE

    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.

    Rémond
    François Rémond (circa 1747-1812)

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

    Aiguieres007-03_BD_MAIL

    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

    APF_Lustre003_04

    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

    0024_05277_PENDUL

    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” 

    0031_05577_PENDUL

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

    Paris, Directory-Consulate period, circa 1795

    Height44 Width24.5 Depth19.5

    Provenance:

    – 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