search icon

Époques: Louis XVI

  • Cousin
    Joseph-Simon Cousin (1754-circa 1790)

    Rare Matte and Burnished Gilt Bronze and White Carrara Marble Mantel Clock

    « The Chinese Pagoda »


    Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1780

    Height67 cm Width33 cm Depth22 cm


    – Sold Paris, Hôtel George V, Maîtres Ader-Picard-Tajan, December 5, 1989, lot 195.


    The round white enamel dial, signed “Cousin H. De. M. C. D’Artois”, indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic five-minute intervals and date by means of three hands, two of which are made of pierced and gilt bronze. The movement is housed in a fine architectural case in the form of a Chinese pagoda, which is made of finely chased matte and burnished gilt bronze and white statuary marble. The two-tiered pagoda features a lower level supported by four columns that surround the solar-form pendulum. They are adorned with leaves and cubes decorated with engraved motifs. The entablature is in the shape of a tapering, stepped tapering roof embellished with bead and twisted cord friezes, whose corners are adorned with dragons holding bead pendants in their mouths. The plinth below features openwork geometric friezes that are strung with bells, and above an openwork balustrade of interlacing circles. The four upper columns, adorned with leaves and spiral fluting, frame the drum case that houses the movement and support the roof, which is decorated with flowers, twisted cords, fringed draperies, bells, and bead swags, and is surmounted by a Chinese figure who is seated on a cushion and holds a parasol with bells. The quadrangular base with rounded corners features a balustrade that is adorned with circles, crosses, and beads, with two further Chinese figures standing on the plinth. The clock is raised upon four toupie feet.

    This rare mantel clock is among the French objets d’art created in the Chinoiserie style, which strongly influenced the French decorative arts during the 18th century due to the great enthusiasm of many influential Parisian collectors for objects made in the Orient, and particularly in China and Japan. This movement was influenced by French creations of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, largely as a result of the embassy sent to French King Louis XIV by the King of Siam in 1686, during which the Siamese ambassadors presented numerous gifts to Louis XIV. This immediately created a fashion for objects from the Orient, and resulted in the creation of objects decorated with Oriental motifs and figures. The present clock was created within this particular context. It may be compared to a model created around the same time, which features a pagoda supported by palm trees under which a Chinaman is sitting, one example of which is today in the Nissim de Camondo Museum in Paris. A second example is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Paris, 1997, p. 282. The identity of the bronze caster who created the model is currently not known; however certain motifs, particularly the openwork geometric friezes decorated with beads and bells are reminiscent of the work of the renowned Parisian bronzier François Rémond, and in particular that of an exceptional Japanese lacquer writing case that Marie-Antoinette commissioned around 1785 (see the exhibition catalogue Marie-Antoinette, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, 2008, p. 199, catalogue n° 140).


    Today only a handful of identical clocks are known. Among them, one example is in the collection of Susan and John Gutfreund in New York (see E. Evans Eerdmans, Henri Samuel, Master of the French Interior, New York, 2018, p. 208). A second example, whose dial is signed “Gavelle l’aîné “, which is embellished with a porcelain group from the Locré factory, is illustrated in G. and A. Wannenes, Les plus belles pendules françaises, De Louis XIV à l’Empire, Florence, 2013, p. 288. One further “Chinese pagoda” clock is in the British Royal Collection, and was formerly the collection of the Queen Mother (shown in C. Jagger, Royal Clocks, The British Monarchy & its Timekeepers 1300-1900, London, 1983, p. 138, fig. 188).

    Joseph-Simon Cousin (1754 - circa 1790)

    Joseph-Simon Cousin is one of the most important Parisian clockmakers of the final third of the 18th century. After serving his apprenticeship with Pierre-Laurent Gautrin, he became maître horloger on June 5, 1778, opening a workshop in the rue de Harlay. He quickly became successful and soon received the coveted title of Horloger de Monseigneur le Comte d’Artois (brother of King Louis XVI).

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

    Rare Pair of Matte and Burnished Gilt Bronze Baluster-Form Candlesticks


    Attributed to François Rémond

    Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1785

    Height27.5 cm Diamètre14.3 cm


    – Formerly in the collection of the princes of Beauvau-Craon.


    The candlesticks, made of very finely chased bronze with matte and gilt finishing, feature a baluster stem emerging from a leaf and flower bouquet; it is adorned with spiral fluting and festoons of beads suspended from roundels. The stem supports a nozzle decorated with a band of olive branches; the drip pan is embellished with a cord frieze. The base of the stem has a gadrooned knop and rests on a bell-shaped foot decorated with acanthus leaves and seeded stems set against a matted ground. The foot is, in turn, supported by a round plinth with bead and olive branch friezes framed between plain bands.

    The unique design of this pair of large candlesticks makes it one of the most elaborate lighting instruments of the Louis XVI period. The motifs and decorative elements are quite similar to ornamental motifs – including balusters, bead friezes and festoons, and acanthus leaves – which appear on an armchair made by the furniture maker Jean-Baptiste-Claude Séné. Delivered in 1787, to be placed in the Grand Cabinet of Queen Marie-Antoinette in the Château of Saint-Cloud, it is today in the Louvre Museum (see Bill G.B. Pallot, Le mobilier du Musée du Louvre, Tome 2, Editions Faton, Dijon, 1993, p. 163, catalogue n° 57). The exceptional quality of the chasing and gilding suggests the present pair of candlesticks was made by one of the finest chaser-gilders of the period: François Rémond, a Parisian artisan who worked exclusively for Dominique Daguerre, the most important dealer in luxury objects of the period.


    Today only a very few identical candlesticks are known to exist. Among them, one pair was in the Dillée collection (sold Sotheby’s, Paris, Galerie Charpentier, March 18-19, 2015, lot 74). A second pair was offered at auction by Sotheby’s New York on October 22, 1965, lot 211. One further comparable pair of candlesticks was formerly in the collection of Sigismond Bardac (sold Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Me Lair-Dubreuil, May 10-11, 1920, lot 72).

    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
    Pierre Gavelle (1753-1802)

    Exceptional Monumental Clock in Gilt and Patinated Bronze


    Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1775-1785

    Height90 cm Width46 cm Depth29 cm


    -Sold Paris, collection of Mademoiselle X…, Maître Lair-Dubreuil, Hôtel Drouot, March 3-7, 1913, lot 367.

    -Collection of Mr. Antonio de Sommer Champalimaud (1918-2004), Lisbon.


    The round white enamel dial, signed “Gavelle l’aîné à Paris”, indicates the Arabic numeral hours and fifteen-minute intervals by means of two pierced and gilt hands; it also has a central seconds hand. The dial bears the signature of the enameller Edmé Portail Barbichon, one of the main rivals of enamellers Joseph Coteau and Dubuisson. The hour and half-hour striking movement is housed in a round case that is adorned with bead friezes and a tied drapery. It is supported by a very fine, lightly draped putto that is depicted in a contrapposto pose inspired by Renaissance Florence; at his feet lie two books. Opposite the putto there is a fluted column whose base is decorated with a ribbon-tied laurel torus and whose chapter is adorned with an egg and dart frieze. It supports a globe among clouds; at the base of the column there are a parchment, a square and a compass. The shaped and molded base is adorned with friezes of laurel leaves and seeds; the façade bears a central panel in the manner of Clodion, depicting children at play. The clocks stands on six flattened ball feet with a matted band.

    The present monumental clock was no doubt specially ordered by an influential Parisian collector during the early years of the reign of Louis XVI. It was clearly made by one of the finest bronze casters of the time, such as the Osmonds or Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain. The magnificent  putto figure is reminiscent of the work of sculptor François Duquesnoy, known as François Flamand, who produced this type of model throughout his career. To the best of our knowledge the present clock is the only known example of this model, which supports the hypothesis that the clock was a one-of-a-kind piece that was made to order. During the 18th century, the process of commissioning a piece was complex and entailed the production of sketches, plans, and preparatory models in plaster or terra cotta, to ensure a bronze sculpture of the highest quality.

    Pierre Gavelle (1753 - 1802)

    The clockmaker Pierre Gavelle (who signed “Gavelle l’aîné”), was the son of Jean-Jacques Gavelle and the brother of Maurice-Jacques Gavelle, also clockmakers in Paris. All three were active in Paris during the second half of the 18th century. After becoming a master, on September 4, 1771, he worked in his father’s workshop until 1787, then opened a workshop in rue Saint-Denis, moving to the rue des Juifs in 1801 (see Tardy, Dictionnaire des horlogers français, Paris, 1971, p. 251). A deputy of the guild in 1785, he became rather well-known and several of his clocks were mentioned during the early decades of the 19th century, as belonging to Parisian collectors of the day, including the printer Jacques Delatynna and Alexandre-Pierre-Louis Deherain, Counsellor to the Paris Appellate Court.

    In the same category
    Dubuisson (1731-1815)

    Rare Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock

    “The Kiss”

    signature 2

    Enamelled dial by Etienne Gobin, known as Dubuisson

    After a model by Jean-Antoine Houdon

    Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1785

    Height46 cm Width26 cm Depth15 cm

    The round enamel dial, signed “Dubuisson”, indicates the Arabic numeral hours and fifteen-minute intervals by means of two pierced gilt bronze hands, as well as the date by means of a steel hand. The gilt bronze neoclassical case is very finely chased. The dial is framed by chased foliate spandrels.  The case, in the form of an antique milestone, is flanked by two magnificent mermaids who support the entablature, which is adorned with egg and dart friezes, beading, and stylised leaves. On it stands the sculpture “The Kiss”. It stands on a pedestal, around which are four doves and two flaming tripod incense burners, which are decorated with spiral fluting and the heads of lions holding chains in their mouths. The plinth is adorned with beading and a frieze of stylised flowers. It is set upon a rectangular base with rounded corners, which features interlace leaf friezes and is raised upon six finely chased toupie feet.

    This rare model is mentioned in several 18th century documents. One clock, probably identical to the present model, was offered at the sale of the collection of a certain Monsieur Tricot in 1793: “N°211. A clock that strikes the hours and half hours, with date, by Bourret; It is set on a high square base and is surmounted by an elaborate pediment decorated with egg and dart motifs, supported by two naiad caryatids with fish tails; the stepped base is adorned with water leaves and interlace motifs, the white marble base is raised upon ball feet. The upper portion of the clock represents Mark Anthony and Cleopatra kissing, after Houdon. The sculpture is set upon a column, with four doves, and on either side a cassolette. This magnificently executed clock is finely matte gilded; with a glass dome. Height 17 pouces, width 10 pouces”. Today only a few identical clocks are known.

    Among them, one example with a red griotte marble base, whose dial is signed “Robin à Paris”, was formerly in the Fabius Frères collection (illustrated in Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème partie: Du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1975, p. 255). A second example, whose dial is signed “Bourret à Paris”, is illustrated in Giacomo and Aurélie Wannenes, Les plus belles pendules françaises, de Louis XIV à l’Empire, Editions Polistampa, Florence, 2013, p. 245. A third clock, also signed Bourret, was in the Jean Gismondi Gallery in Paris (illustrated in J-D. Augarde, Les ouvriers du Temps, Genève, 1996, p. 286, fig. 219). One further such clock, with patinated mermaids, is in the Hermitage Museum in  Saint Petersburg.

    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.

    In the same category
    Robert & Courvoisier
    Robert & Courvoisier

    Rare Gilt Bronze Pendule d’Officier


    Attributed to the Robert & Courvoisier firm

    Switzerland, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Louis XVI period, circa 1785

    Height19 cm Width12.5 cm Depth8 cm


    Chapuis, “Une maison chaux-de-fonnière: les Robert et les Courvoisier (1710-1830)”, in Pendules neuchâteloises, Documents nouveaux, Editions Slatkine, Geneva, 1987.


    The round white enamel dial, signed “Robert & Courvoisier”, indicates the Arabic numeral hours and fifteen-minute intervals by means of two hands in pierced bronze; it also has a blued steel alarm hand. The movement, with a 48-hour power reserve, strikes the hours, half hours, and quarter hours. It is housed in a finely chased gilt bronze neoclassic case. The bezel is adorned with a mille-raie frieze; the handle at the top of the clock takes the form of a snake biting its tail; this is the “Ouroboros”, a symbol of the infinite nature of Time. The handle is set on a bouquet of leaves and rests on an entablature that is adorned with a bead frieze. The concave sides are decorated with oak leaf and acorn garlands; the lower spandrels on the façade are embellished with foliage. The sides are decorated with large, leafy, seeded rosettes and reserves with stylized motifs set against matted grounds. The door on the back is pierced with a lattice pattern centered by cabochons. The clock is raised upon four flattened feet.

    Today only a small number of identical clocks are known. Among them, one example was offered at auction at Christie’s London on December 4, 1969, lot 29. A second clock, whose dial is unsigned, is illustrated in G. and A. Wannenes, Les plus belles pendules françaises, De Louis XIV à l’Empire, Editions Polistampa, Florence, 2013, p. 183. A third example, formerly in the collection of Count Lamberti, is illustrated in Tardy, La pendule française dans le Monde, Paris, 6th edition, 1994, p. 121. One further similar clock, whose dial is signed  “Dubois et Fils”, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Les éditions de l’Amateur, Paris, 1997, p. 174, figure B.

    Robert & Courvoisier

    Robert & Courvoisier is one of the best-known Swiss horological firms of the final years of the 18th century and the early years of the following century. It was born of the association of two horological families, the Roberts and the Courvoisiers. Josué Robert (1691-1771) established the family workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds around 1715 and received the title of Clockmaker to the King in 1725. Having close family ties to the Jaquet-Droz and Sandoz families, he became famous for his inventions and numerous horological innovations, which helped make La Chaux-de-Fonds a very active clockmaking center. One of his sons, Louis-Benjamin Robert (1732-1781), worked in his father’s workshop and became its director after the death of his father in 1771; the company was called “J. Robert et fils”. In 1781, after the death of Louis-Benjamin, his son Aimé Robert (1758-1834) succeeded him and almost immediately (on April 30, 1781) went into partnership with Louis Courvoisier (1758-1832), the son of a Neuchâtel engraver, under the name “J. Robert et fils et Cie”. Aimé Robert was in charge of sales, seeking out commercial opportunities for their work throughout Europe. Louis Courvoisier was in charge of running the workshop and supervising production. In 1791, an inventory of the workshop mentioned hundreds of clocks, numerous employees, artisans and workmen, and highlighted the firm’s important commercial ties with Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, and in many other European countries. At the time the company was known as “J. Robert et fils, Courvoisier & Cie”. The Napoleonic wars and political instability of the early years of the 19th century created great difficulties for the firm; the workshop decreased its production and concentrated its efforts on very high quality pieces that were destined for exportation. At the time the firm, then called “Robert Courvoisier & Cie”, dominated horological production, which was much decreased. In 1811, after Aimé Robert had retired, the company was known as “Courvoisier & Cie”. It remained active for nearly two more decades.

    In the same category
    Lepaute  -  Osmond
    Jean-André and Jean-Baptiste Lepaute
    Robert Osmond (1711-1789)

    A Rare Gilt Bronze Neoclassical Vase-Shaped Clock with Matte and Gilt Finishing


    Movement signed by Jean-Baptiste Lepaute

    Case Attributed to Robert Osmond

    Paris, transition period between Louis XV and Louis XVI, circa 1770

    Height46.5 cm Width19 cm DepthBase 19.8 cm x 19.8 cm

    The clock indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic numeral five-minute intervals on enamel cartouches in two superimposed revolving dials that are decorated with lozenges set with quatrefoils. The neoclassical case is in the form of a gilt bronze baluster vase with matte and gilt finishing. The clock is surmounted by a pinecone finial around which a snake is coiled; the snake’s tongue is the pointer that marks the time on the revolving dials. The applied classical handles are adorned with lions’ heads with mobile rings in their mouths. The molded belly of the vase features a frieze with interlacing motifs above and a wreath of leaves below. The sloping base is decorated with a knop and a ribbon-tied laurel torus. The square plinth, where the slow/fast adjustment is located, is decorated with wide laurel garlands that are held in place by bows and are supported on a truncated column with wide, rudented fluting, one of which conceals the winding hole. The molded base is adorned with ribbon-tied reeds and laurel toruses. A square plinth with matte decoration, which bears the signature “Lepaute”, supports the clock.

    Clocks in the form of classical vases came into fashion in Paris during the second half of the 18th century and immediately became popular among the important collectors of the time. The model was particularly suited to the elegant cercles tournants dials, which collectors often preferred to the traditional round dials, thought to be too “ordinary”. Today, several such clock models are known, but only very few of them are as well-balanced and elegant as the present clock. Among the comparable vase-shaped clocks known, one example in the form of a vase standing on a truncated column, made by the bronze-caster Robert Osmond and the clockmaker Lepaute in 1770, is illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Band I, Editions Klinkhardt & Biermann, Munich, 1986, p. 194. A second clock is in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris (see P. Jullian, Le style Louis XVI, Editions Baschet et Cie, Paris, 1983, p. 121, fig .4). One further such clock is in the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris (see Tardy, La pendule française, Des origines à nos jours, 2ème partie: Du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1974, p. 289, fig. 3).

    Jean-André and Jean-Baptiste Lepaute

    Lepaute Horloger du Roi à Paris“: This is the signature of the brothers Jean-André Lepaute (1720-1789) and Jean-Baptiste Lepaute (1727-1802), remarkable clockmakers born in Thonne-la-Long in Lorraine who were both horlogers du Roi (Clockmakers of the King).

    Jean-André came to Paris as a young man and was joined by his brother in 1747. The Lepaute enterprise, founded informally in 1750, was formally incorporated in 1758. Jean-André, who was received as a maître by the corporation des horlogers in 1759, was lodged first in the Palais du Luxembourg and then, in 1756, in the Galeries du Louvre. Jean-André Lepaute wrote a horological treatise (Traité d’Horlogerie), published in Paris in 1755. Another volume, entitled Description de plusieurs ouvrages d’horlogerie (A Description of several horological pieces) appeared in 1764. In 1748 he married the mathematician and astronomer Nicole-Reine Etable de la Brière, who among other things predicted the return of Halley’s Comet.

    Jean-Baptiste Lepaute, received maître in December 1776, was known for the equation of time clock he constructed for the Paris Hôtel de Ville (1780, destroyed in the fire of 1871) and the clock of the Hôtel des Invalides.

    The two brothers worked for the French Garde-Meuble de la Couronne; their clocks were appreciated by the most important connoisseurs of the time, both in France and abroad, such as the Prince Charles de Lorraine and the Queen Louise-Ulrika of Sweden.

    Jean-Baptiste took over the workshop when Jean-André retired in 1775.

    Robert Osmond (1711 - 1789)

    French bronze-caster Robert Osmond was born in Canisy, near Saint-Lô; he began his apprenticeship in the workshop of Louis Regnard, maître fondeur en terre et en sable, and became a master bronzier in Paris in 1746. He is recorded as working in the rue des Canettes in the St. Sulpice parish, moving to the rue de Mâcon in 1761. Robert Osmond became a juré, thus gaining a certain degree of protection of his creative rights. In 1753, he sent for his nephew in Normandy, and in 1761, the workshop, which by that time had grown considerably, moved to the rue de Macon. The nephew, Jean-Baptiste Osmond (1742-after 1790) became a master in 1764 and as of that date worked closely with his uncle, to such a degree that it is difficult to differentiate between the contributions of each. Robert appears to have retired around 1775. Jean-Baptiste, who remained in charge of the workshop after the retirement of his uncle, encountered difficulties and went bankrupt in 1784. Robert Osmond died in 1789.

    Prolific bronze casters and chasers, the Osmonds worked with equal success in both the Louis XV and the Neo-classical styles. Prized by connoisseurs of the period, their work was distributed by clockmakers and marchands-merciers. Although they made all types of furnishing objects, including fire dogs, wall lights and inkstands, the only extant works by them are clocks, including one depicting the Rape of Europe (Getty Museum, California) in the Louis XV style and two important Neo-classical forms, of which there are several examples, as well as a vase with lions’ heads (Musée Condé, Chantilly and the Cleveland Museum of Art) and a cartel-clock with chased ribbons (examples in the Stockholm Nationalmuseum; Paris, Nissim de Camondo Museum). A remarkable clock decorated with a globe, cupids and a Sèvres porcelain plaque (Paris, Louvre) is another of their notable works.

    Specialising at first in the rocaille style, in the early 1760’s they turned to the new Neo-classical style and soon numbered among its greatest practitioners. They furnished cases to the best clockmakers of the period, such as Montjoye, for whom they made cases for cartonnier and column clocks, the column being one of the favourite motifs of the Osmond workshop.

    In the same category
    Jean Antoine I Lépine (1720-1814)

    Rare Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock “Love Crowned by the Graces”


    Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1785

    Height60 cm Width51 cm Depth24 cm

    The round white enamel dial, signed “Lepine Hger du Roy”, indicates the Roman numeral hours and five-minute intervals by means of two pierced gilt bronze hands. The hour and half hour-striking movement is housed in a gilt bronze case with matte and burnished finishing. The bezel is framed by two ribbon-tied olive branches. The case, in the form of a neoclassical vase with a fluted neck, is adorned with a leaf frieze; its pedestal is decorated with wide acanthus leaves and a gadrooned knop. It is placed within an architectural entablature with alternating florally-decorated reserves and flowers, framed by beadwork. The clock is surmounted by a large leaf and flower garland that hangs down on either side. The garland is grasped by classically-dressed young women, one of whom is offering a wreath of roses to a Cupid that stands in front of her, holding out its arms. The shaped quadrangular base with rounded corners is adorned with beadwork friezes and scrolls that frame a low-relief panel depicting putti that are working in the Arts and Sciences. The clock is raised upon four feet that are adorned with laurel leaf toruses.

    Only a very few examples of this clock model, with its extremely fine chasing and gilding, were produced during the last quarter of the 18th century. Some of these clocks feature variations, including different combinations of materials and a different treatment of the base’s decoration.


    Among the few similar clocks known, one example is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age à nos jours, Paris, 1997, p. 256. A second clock is on display in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (see Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème Partie: Du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1975, p. 250). One further such clock is in the Mobilier national, now on loan to the Musée national du Château de Fontainebleau (illustrated in E. Dumonthier, Les bronzes du Mobilier national, Pendules et cartels, Editions Massin, Paris, circa 1911, plate 23).

    Jean Antoine I Lépine (1720 - 1814)

    Signing his works “Lepine Hger du Roi/A Paris”, Jean-Antoine I Lépine was one of the most important Parisian clockmakers of the second part of the 18th century. Lépine initially worked as an “ouvrier libre”, then became a master on March 13, 1762, and taking over the stock of his colleague Caron, who held the title of Horloger du Roi et du Garde-Meuble de la Couronne. Having settled in the rue Saint-Denis in 1756, the place Dauphine in 1772, the rue des Fossés Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois in 1777, and then the rue des Vieux-Augustins during the Revolutionary period, Lépine led one of the most productive and renowned workshops of the reign of Louis XVI. During the Revolution, an inventory was drawn up of the clocks that belonged to the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne and the royal family; it contained no fewer than thirty-two clocks by Lépine. In addition to the clocks made for the king and his entourage, Lépine made many luxury horological pieces for the important collectors of the time, including Prince Charles of Lorraine and the Marquis de Montesquieu.

    In the same category

    Rare Mantel Clock in the Form of a Rotunda-Type Temple, made of Gilt Bronze with Matte and Burnished Finishing, Bisque Porcelain, and White Carrara Marble


    Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1780-1785

    Height39 cm Diamètre17.5 cm

    The present mantel clock, a luxurious pretext for time indication, takes the form of a rotunda-type Neoclassical temple. It is made of finely chased gilt bronze with matte and burnished finishing, and white Carrara marble. The time is indicated on two cadrans tournants made up of enamel cartouches. The upper one shows the Arabic numeral five-minute intervals; the lower one indicates the Roman numeral hours. The time is indicated by a fixed gilt bronze arrow. The partially visible movement is fitted within an entablature with tapering columns decorated with knops and fluted rings that are linked by garlands of beads. The clock is surmounted by a dome with a seed and acanthus leaf finial. The upper and lower portions are linked by four columns with capitals decorated with beads and molded bases that are centered by a promontory on which stands a small bisque porcelain figure depicting a young girl who is carrying fruit in her skirt. The clock stands on a round plinth with a balustrade framed by beads and cords; it is raised upon four square feet decorated with triple fluting.

    The unusual rotunda-form composition of the present mantel clock, which takes the form of a classical temple, was inspired by the “Temple of Love” that was built in 1778 for Queen Marie-Antoinette by architect Richard Mique, in the gardens of the Petit Trianon. Known as a “fabrique”, that building designed for the queen was universally considered to be absolutely beautiful, with perfectly harmonious proportions. It was much imitated in various domains of the French decorative arts at the time, and particularly in the field of horology. After its creation the “temple” clock appeared, presenting a more or less faithful version of the queen’s rotunda. In 1786 one example, which was probably comparable to the present clock, was estimated at 144 livres; it stood in the drawing room of Charles-Guillaume-Louis, Marquis de Broglie: “A mantel clock with cadran tournant mounted on four columns in white marble, with striking and ornaments of gilt copper, with a small bisque figure”. Among the small number of similar models known today, one might cite one example that was formerly in the “Au vieux Cadran” collection (see Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème Partie, Du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1974, p. 286). A second example, with lapis lazuli columns, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de La Pendule Française du moyen-âge au XXe siècle, Les éditions de l’Amateur, Paris, 1997, p. 293, fig. A.