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Époques: Louis XVI

  • Robin
    Robert Robin (1741-1799)

    Rare “Pyramid” Clock with Mechanical Meridian and Moon Phases, in Painted Sheet Metal and Gilt Bronze with Matte and Burnished Finishing

    Pendule438-09_HD_WEB

    Paris, early Louis XVI period, dated 1774

    Height49.2 cm Width26.5 cm Depth15 cm

    Provenance:

    Probably commissioned circa 1774 by Denis-Pierre-Jean Papillon de la Ferté, Intendant des Menus-Plaisirs du Roi.

    His sale in Paris, February 20, 1797, lot 306.

    Count de Bryas

    Collection of Madame Dubernet Douine

    Her sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Maître Ader, May 15-16, 1946, lot 152

    Collection of Hubert de Saint-Senoch

    His sale, Sotheby’s, Monaco, December 4-6, 1983, lot 306

     

    Bibliography:

    Giacomo and Aurélie Wannenes, Les plus belles pendules françaises, De Louis XIV à l’Empire, Editions Polistampa, Florence, 2013, p.212 (illustrated).

    Elke Niehüser, Die Franzosische Bronzeuhr, Eine Typologie der figürlichen Darstellungen, Editions Callwey, Munich, 1997, p. 252, fig. 1082 (illustration).

     

    The two white enamel annular dials indicate the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic numeral five-minute intervals, through an aperture, by means of a fixed hand above the signature “Robin à Paris”. The plate is also signed and dated “1774”; the upper, trapezoidal portion features a mobile meridian that runs along a vertical axis that begins with the summer solstice and continues to the winter solstice, crossing through the twelve polychrome painted signs of the zodiac; the upper portion features an aperture for slow/fast adjustment; the base has a curved plaque adorned with a perspective landscape that gives the indication of the age and phases of the moon. The magnificent architectural case, in the form of a pyramidal obelisk made of finely chased gilt bronze with matte and burnished finishing and painted sheet metal. Surmounting the clock is an armillary sphere that rests on a cruciform entablature that is adorned with acanthus leaves supported by a pyramid whose corners are decorated with rudented fluting and whose sides are lavishly adorned with panels bearing ribbon-tied trophies relating to the Sciences and the Arts, and particularly mathematics and music, set against matted reserves. In the lower portion of the base, there is concave molding decorated with leaves and beads. The shaped square base is decorated with rudented fluting, the sides with acanthus-adorned scrolling, the façade with a ribbon-tied olive wreath, and the back with a matted reserve with an olive or laurel wreath; the plaque on the back may be removed to allow access to the clock’s hour and half hour striking mechanism. The shaped quadrangular base is adorned with a frieze of water leaves, rosettes, and panels featuring leaf and scroll motifs. The clock is raised upon four flattened ball feet that are decorated with water leaves.

    The 18th century in France was probably the period in the European decorative arts during which artisans showed the greatest imagination and inventiveness. There was an unprecedented   amount of creativity in terms of forms and motifs, and many new models were created that were hitherto unthought-of or non-existent in the repertory. In the field of horological creation, particularly during the second part of the century, elements of architecture, women in classical robes, mythological figures, all types of vases, animals…were used as supports or ornaments for the cases housing movements created by the greatest Parisian clockmakers of the day. The “pyramid” or “obelisk” model was invented at this time. A great many variations, including more or less elaborate compositions, exist. Some were often copied; others, like the present clock, seem to be one-of-a-kind, probably made at the request of an important Parisian connoisseur and collector of rare and remarkable objects. In this case the collector was Denis-Pierre-Jean Papillon de la Ferté. The present clock was indeed briefly described in Papillon de la Ferté’s posthumous inventory, in late frimaire, year IV: “A small pyramid clock representing a meridian with moon phases in the base, movement and striking by Robin, 1200 livres”. It was again offered several months later, at the sale of the collection of Monsieur Laferté (that is, Papillon de la Ferté): “306. A pyramid clock, representing a mechanical meridian, with moon phases, by the same maker (Robin)”.

     

    Denis-Pierre-Jean Papillon de la Ferté (February18, 1727, Châlons-en-Champagne – July 7, 1794, Paris)

    Intendant and Contrôleur de l’argenterie français of the Menus plaisirs et affaires de la Maison du roi. The son of a president/treasurer of France for the Champagne region, Lieutenant of the city of Châlons and Captain to the king at Châlons, in 1756 he was appointed Intendant, purchasing the office for 260,000 livres. He subsequenty became Commissaire des Menus-Plaisirs du Roi, occupying the office until 1792. Papillon de la Ferté also held the title of King’s Commissionner to the Academy of music, where over the course of ten years he proposed many productions for the Opera. He wrote numerous books, letters and reports, which are now in the National Archives. In 1776 he wrote “Extraits des différents ouvrages publiés sur la vie des peintres”, in 2 volumes; the work was again published in 1796, under the pseudonym M. P. D. L. F. Thanks to the efforts of Adolphe Jullien, the life of Denis-Pierre-Jean Papillon de la Ferté was well documented, in several articles, brochures and books on the opera during the 18th century, which drew on his letters and manuscript papers, now in the archives of the opera and in the Bibliothèque de la ville de Paris.

    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.



    In the same category
    Vion
    François Vion (circa 1737-after 1790)

    Important Gilt Bronze and White Carrara Marble Cercles Tournants Mantle Clock with Matte and Burnished Finishing

    Pendule315-04_HD_WEB

    Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1775-1785

    The plinth marked: “VION

    Height52 cm Width19 cm Depth19 cm

    Provenance:

    – Almost certainly from the collection of Armand-Augustin-Louis, the 5th Marquis de Caulaincourt, 1st Duke of Vicenza (Caulaincourt 1773-Paris 1827); mentioned in his probate inventory, drawn up April 1827 in Paris: “A clock composed of a white marble column with a gilt copper dial above the column, the hours told by a child holding an arrow”.

     

    The cercles tournants dials, made up of two white enamel rings that indicate respectively the Roman numeral hours and the five-minute intervals in Arabic numerals, are set in a lidded urn with handles adorned with mille-raie motifs. The belly of the urn is decorated with leaf garlands suspended from stylized flowers. The lid is surmounted by a figure of a seated Cupid, who holds a bow in his left hand and an arrow in the other, with which he indicates the time. The pedestal of the vase is supported on a square plinth that is placed upon a tall white Carrara marble column, which is adorned with decorated fluting; it stands on a base adorned with a double molded torus. The quadrangular base, embellished with a waterleaf frieze, features plain reserves with matted frames; the corners of the terrace are decorated with foliage centered by spiral rosettes. The base is further adorned with chased draperies simulating lions’ skins suspended from rings, with four ornate leaves supported on lions’ paw feet.

    The remarkable design of the present rare mantel clock makes it one of the most elaborate Parisian clocks made during the reign of Louis XVI. Today only a small number of comparable clocks are known. Among them, one similar example, made by the clockmaker Roque, is composed of a terrestrial globe supported by two putti resting on a truncated white marble column; it is in the Lyon Musée des Arts décoratifs (illustrated in P. Arizzoli-Clémentel, C. Cardinal et A. Mazur, Ô Temps! Suspends ton vol, catalogue des pendules et horloges du Musée des Arts décoratifs de Lyon, Lyon, 2008, p. 77, catalogue 30). To the best of our knowledge, only one other nearly identical clock is known to exist, although it features several variations, particularly as concerns the lack of adornment of the base, the indication of the date in the upper vase, and the round enamel dial set in the column; that clock was formerly in the Double collection that was sold in Paris in 1881 (see Tardy, La pendule française dans le Monde, Paris, 1994, p. 89; also pictured in E. Niehüser, Die französische Bronzeuhr, Eine Typologie der figürlichen Darstellungen, Munich, 1997, p. 252, fig. 1094).

    François Vion (circa 1737 - after 1790)

    One of the most important Parisian bronze casters of the second half of the 18th century. Having become a master bronze caster in 1764, he was a rival of the Osmonds and Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain. He specialized in creating clock cases, several of which bear his signature, particularly those known as “Venus and Love” and “Love and the Three Graces”.



    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

    Pendule426-02_HD_WEB

    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.

    Schmit  -  Coteau
    Jean-Nicolas Schmit (?-circa 1820)
    Joseph Coteau (1740-1801)

    Rare Bisque Porcelain and Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock

    Pendule414-04_HD_WEB

    Dihl and Guérhard Manufactory, known as the Duke d’Angoulême’s Manufactory

    Jean-Nicolas Schmit

    The Dial by Joseph Coteau

    Paris, late Louis XVI period, circa 1785-1790

    Height55 Width58 Depth20

    Provenance:

    – Sold in Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Maître Rheims, June 8, 1955, lot 184

    – Sold in Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Maîtres Ader-Picard-Tajan, March 19, 1982, lot 31

     

    The round white enamel dial, which is signed “Schmit à Paris” and “Coteau” and bears the words “Manufre de Mgr le duc d’Angoulême”, indicates the Roman numeral hours, fifteen-minute Arabic numeral intervals and date, as well as the days of the week along with their corresponding astrological signs and the seconds, by means of five hands, two of which are made of pierced and gilt bronze. It is housed in a bisque porcelain case that imitates white Carrara marble and features decorative scenes in shades of gray on a pink ground. It is adorned with bronze mounts in the form of leaves that are finely chased and gilt with matte and burnished finishing, panels with stylized mermaids and friezes of alternating round and oval beads. The hour and half hour striking movement is housed in a case that depicts upon Eros, the god of Love, sitting among the clouds. In his right hand he is holding a stylus with which he has engraved a poem in a book that is held by a putto. The shaped quadrangular base with canted corners is adorned with reserves painted in shades of gray against a pink ground, which depict putti that are gardening and gathering flowers. The clock is raised upon four lion’s paw feet.

    This magnificent clock is an excellent illustration of the extraordinary creativity of the Parisian clockmakers of the second half of the 18th century. They created remarkably inventive pieces of unparalleled quality, juxtaposing the most luxurious and rare materials. It was made at the renowned Manufactory known as the Duke d’Angoulême’s Factory because as of 1781 it was headed by the Duke d’Angoulême, who later entrusted its direction to Christophe Erasimus Dihl and the Guérhards; under their guidance the factory became the principal rival of the Sèvres Manufactory during the final years of the 18th century and during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. After the fall of the monarchy, the manufactory created several new models, including unglazed groups and figures, which were particularly popular when they were mounted as “large clocks in fine bisque porcelain” (Dictionnaire universel de la géographie commerçante, Tome V, p. 325; cited in R. de Plinval de Guillebon, Les biscuits de porcelaine de Paris XVIIIe-XIXe siècles, Editions Faton, Dijon, 2012, p. 199). The clock’s remarkable and perfectly balanced composition was quite successful among important Parisian collectors of the time. Among the few identical models known, all seem to be signed by the clockmaker Schmit. Among them, one example with a base in shades of gray, which has an aperture with the indications of the age and phases of the moon, which was formerly in the collection of the Guinness family in Luttrelstown Castle near Dublin (sold Christie’s, September 26-28, 1983). A second clock was in the James de Rothschild collection in Waddesdon Manor near London.

    Jean-Nicolas Schmit (? - circa 1820)

    Jean-Nicolas Schmit is one of the most important Parisian clockmakers of the late 18th century and early 19th centuries. After becoming a master in August 1781, he opened a workshop in the rue Betizy and won immediate renown among connoisseurs. Dihl and Guérhard, the directors of the Duc d’Angoulême’s porcelain factory, were impressed by his movements and purchased the majority of their clock movements from him. Contemporary documents mention the clockmaker’s work as being in the collections of the greatest art enthusiasts of the period. Clocks by him are included in the probate inventory of Jean-Etienne-Marie de Portalis, made a conseiller d’état by Napoléon, and in that of the wife of Louis-Marie-Bretagne-Dominique de Rohan-Chabot, Duc de Rohan and cousin of King Louis XV.



    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).



    In the same category
    Schmit
    Jean-Nicolas Schmit (?-circa 1820)

    Rare Bisque Porcelain and Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock

    “The Two Naiads”

    Pendule397-04_BD_MAIL

    “Schmit à Paris”

    The Manufactory of Dihl et Guérhard, known as the “Manufactory of the Duke of Angoulême”

    Paris, late Louis XVI period, circa 1790

    Height41 Width44 Depth11.5

    The round white enamel dial, signed “Schmit à Paris”, indicates the Arabic numeral hours and fifteen-minute intervals by means of two pierced gilt bronze hands. It is fitted in an imitation marble bisque porcelain case (Wedgwood bisque), in shades of gray on a yellow ground. The case is adorned with finely chased matte and burnished gilt bronze mounts including waterleaf friezes and friezes of alternating round and oval beads. The portion of the case in which the hour and half-hour striking movement is housed features a plaque with a blue ground in which a child is lying on a dolphin. Two beautiful allegorical figures of naiads in classical draperies are leaning on the case. They hold urns from which water is pouring out, symbolizing the passing of Time. The shaped quadrangular base, with rounded corners, is decorated with reserves painted in shades of gray on a yellow background, with elegant scrolls and baskets containing fruits, grape vines, snakes and other figures. The front panel is centered by a cartouche bearing the words “Manufre de MM Guerhard et Dihl a Paris”. The clock is raised upon eight knurled feet.

    This magnificent clock is an excellent example of the inventiveness shown by certain Parisian clockmakers of the second half of the 18th century, who created works of great originality and outstanding quality using the most precious and costly materials. The present clock was made by a well-known Manufactory that was known as the “Manufacture du duc d’Angoulême” ; in 1781 its patron, the Duke of Angoulême, entrusted the factory to two groups of partners: Christophe Erasimus Dihl and the husband and wife team of the Guérhards. Under their direction the company became the main rival of the Sèvres Manufactory during the final years of the 18th century and the early years of the nineteenth century, during the reign of Napoleon. After the fall of the monarchy the manufactory created many new models, including unglazed groups and figures, which were especially popular when mounted as “large clocks in beautiful bisque” (Dictionnaire universel de la géographie commerçante, Tome V, p. 325; cited in R. de Plinval de Guillebon, Les biscuits de porcelaine de Paris XVIIIe-XIXe siècles, Editions Faton, Dijon, 2012, p. 199).

    The unusual and beautifully balanced composition of the present model made it a great success among influential Parisian connoisseurs of the time. Among the small number of similar clocks, which often present variations in the decoration of the base, all are signed by the clockmaker Schmit. One example was offered at Christie’s London on May 14, 1970, lot 40. A second clock is illustrated in P. Heuer and K. Maurice, European Pendulum Clocks, Decorative Instruments of Measuring Time, Munich, 1988, p. 59, fig. 94. One further such clock, today in a private collection, is illustrated in R. de Plinval de Guillebon, op.cit., Editions Faton, Dijon, 2012, p. 196.

    Jean-Nicolas Schmit (? - circa 1820)

    Jean-Nicolas Schmit is one of the most important Parisian clockmakers of the late 18th century and early 19th centuries. After becoming a master in August 1781, he opened a workshop in the rue Betizy and won immediate renown among connoisseurs. Dihl and Guérhard, the directors of the Duc d’Angoulême’s porcelain factory, were impressed by his movements and purchased the majority of their clock movements from him. Contemporary documents mention the clockmaker’s work as being in the collections of the greatest art enthusiasts of the period. Clocks by him are included in the probate inventory of Jean-Etienne-Marie de Portalis, made a conseiller d’état by Napoléon, and in that of the wife of Louis-Marie-Bretagne-Dominique de Rohan-Chabot, Duc de Rohan and cousin of King Louis XV.



    Robin  -  Coteau  -  Thomire
    Robert Robin (1741-1799)
    Joseph Coteau (1740-1801)
    Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1757-1843)
    Dominique Daguerre

    Exceptional Desk Regulator with “remontoir d’égalité”

    “Royal Model”

    Régulateur022-05_BD_MAIL

    Case attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire

    Probably made under the Supervision of Dominique Daguerre

    Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1783

    Height38.2 Width21.7 Depth17.1

    This exceptional desk, or mantel regulator, is one of the most luxurious Parisian clocks of the latter part of the reign of Louis XVI. Its complex movement with complications has a Graham escapement and a constant force remontoir d’égalité, with a bimetallic gridiron pendulum and two weights, with instructions for winding indicated on the back of the front door: “Remonté à gauche” (Wind to the left). The magnificent neoclassical architectural case is made of finely chased gilt bronze with matte finishing. All four sides, as well as the top, are glazed so that the complex movement may be admired. The case, which is raised on four quadrangular feet, is elaborately adorned with molding on the chapter and the base, with a toothed frieze decorating the slightly protruding cornice, a bead frieze adorning the bezel, acanthus and laurel leaf spandrels, recessed molded matte frames, and a magnificent chased drapery with fringe and a leafy garland under the dial.

    The dial, signed “Robin Hger du Roi”, is a true masterpiece; it also bears the signature of the most renowned enameller of the day, Joseph Coteau (the counter-enamel bears the name “Coteau” and the date “1783”. It indicates the Roman numeral hours, the Arabic five-minute intervals, the seconds, the date, the months, and the equation of time, which shows the difference between true time and mean time. Along its outermost border it features the twelve polychrome signs of the zodiac within oval medallions surrounded by delicate interlacing foliage embellished with flowers and cabochons within arabesque frames. The indications are given by five hands, two of which are made of pierced and gilt bronze. Three others, including the equation of time hand, are made of blued steel.

    The present clock may be considered an example of the quintessence of Parisian luxury horology during the reign of Louis XVI. Such clocks were made for a handful of important connoisseurs, often people who were close to the royal family. Certain contemporary documents afford information about the collectors who owned such masterpieces. One such clock was mentioned in the probate inventory of Denis-Pierre-Jean Papillon de la Ferté, the director of the Menus Plaisirs du Roi; it was sold in February 1797: “305. A square clock, with glazed panels, a half-second movement, with equation, remontoire and striking, made by Robin”. A second clock was described several years previously, shortly before the Revolution, in the inventory of Queen Marie-Antoinette’s horological collection, which was maintained by Robin. In it one finds a model that appears to be nearly identical to the present clock: “28. A square clock with architectural case and glazed panels, in gilt and matte bronze, with a compensation pendulum, hours, minutes, seconds, striking, with date, day of the week, and the figures of the zodiac painted in miniature on the dial, with the name of Robin” (see P. Verlet, Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1999, p. 466).

    Only a few similar regulators are known to exist today; most bear the signatures of the clockmaker Robin and the enameller Coteau, who both collaborated on the clock, probably at the request of one of the great marchands-merciers of the time, such as Simon-Philippe Poirier and his associate Dominique Daguerre, the two most famous purveyors of Parisian luxury items. Among the rare models known today, one example now in a private collection is pictured in D. Roberts, Precision Pendulum Clocks, 2004, p. 32. Two regulators made by Robin, formerly in the Winthrop Kellogg Edey collection, are now in the Frick Collection in New York; their cases are attributed to the renowned bronzier Pierre-Philippe Thomire (Inv. 1999.5.150 and 1999.5.151) (illustrated respectively in Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème Partie : Du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1975, and in C. Vignon, The Frick Collection Decorative Arts Handbook, New York, Scala, 2015).

    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.



    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).



    Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1757 - 1843)

    Pierre-Philippe Thomire was the most important Parisian bronzier of the last quarter of the 18th century and the first decades of the following century. Early on in his career he worked for Pierre Gouthière, ciseleur-fondeur du roi, and toward the mid-1770’s began working with Louis Prieur. He later became one of the bronziers attached to the Manufacture Royale de Sèvres, creating the bronze mounts for most of the important creations of the day. After the Revolution, he purchased the stock of Martin-Eloi Lignereux, thus becoming the most important suppliers of furniture bronzes for châteaux and Imperial Palaces. In addition, he worked for a wealthy private clientele, both French and foreign, including several of Napoleon’s Marshals. Thomire retired in 1823.



    Dominique Daguerre

    Dominique Daguerre is the most important marchand-mercier (i.e. merchant of luxury objects) of the last quarter of the 18th century. Little is known about the early years of his career; he appears to have begun to exercise his profession around 1772, the year he went into partnership with Philippe-Simon Poirier (1720-1785), the famous marchand-mercier who began using porcelain plaques from the Manufacture royale de Sèvres to adorn pieces of furniture. When Poirier retired around 1777-1778, Daguerre took over the shop in the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, keeping the name “La Couronne d’Or”. He retained his predecessor’s clientele, and significantly increased the shop’s activity within just a few years. He played an important role in the renewal of the Parisian decorative arts, working with the finest cabinetmakers of the day, including Adam Weisweiler, Martin Carlin and Claude-Charles Saunier, cabinetmaker of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, Georges Jacob, the bronziers and chaser-gilders Pierre-Philippe Thomire and François Rémond, and the clockmaker Renacle-Nicolas Sotiau. A visionary merchant who brought the level of French luxury goods to its highest point, Daguerre settled in England in the early 1780’s, having gone into partnership with Martin-Eloi Lignereux, who remained in charge of the Paris shop. In London, where he enjoyed the patronage of the Prince Regent (the future King George IV), Daguerre actively participated in the furnishing and decoration of Carlton House and the Brighton Pavilion. Taking advantage of his extensive network of Parisian artisans, he imported most of the furniture, chairs, mantelpieces, bronze furnishings, and art objects from France, billing over 14500£, just for 1787. Impressed by Daguerre’s talent, several British aristocrats, called on his services as well. Count Spencer engaged him for the decoration of Althorp, where Daguerre worked alongside architect Henry Holland (1745-1806). In Paris, Daguerre and his partner Lignereux continued to supply influential connoisseurs and to deliver magnificent pieces of furniture to the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, which were placed in the apartments of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. Daguerre retired in 1793, no doubt deeply affected by the French Revolution and the loss of many of his most important clients.



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

    Important Set of Four Three-Branch Wall Lights made of Gilt Bronze with Matte and Burnished Finishing

    Appliques017-03_HD_WEB

    Attributed to François Rémond

    Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1785

    Height52 Width34

    The wall lights are made of finely chased gilt bronze, with matte and burnished finishing. Each wall light features a central tapering stem in the form of a quiver, which is decorated with spiral motifs and features a band that is adorned with motifs and acanthus leaves, and which issues the three fluted, curving branches. They in turn support the nozzles and drip pans, which are adorned with waterleaf motifs, gadrooning, beadwork, fluting, and foliage. Each wall light is surmounted by an urn that is embellished by ribbon-tied laurel garlands and which that terminates in a flame. The lower portion is made up of oak leaf swags that are adorned with acorns, which emerge from two acanthus leaves.

    By the mid-18th century, the ornamental vocabulary that had prevailed in the French decorative arts for several decades had begun to be challenged, as a new artistic movement was led by scholars, artists, and collectors. It was inspired by the extraordinary archaeological discoveries that had been made in Pompeii and Herculaneum, near Naples. Inspired by these discoveries, a handful of collectors, artists and artisans, including the Duke de Caylus and Lalive de Jully, gradually imposed a new style that was directly inspired by classical antiquity. This “Return to antiquity”, was equally inspired by the neoclassical style that prevailed during the reign of Louis XIV, in the late 17th century. In the field of lighting and particularly that of wall lights, at the time known in French as “bras de lumière”, the early models were extremely – and sometimes exaggeratedly – architectural in style. As of the early 1780s, the designs became more elegant and luxurious, as is the present rare set of four wall lights. Few identical examples of this model are known today. Among the small number of wall lights of the same model, one pair with three branches was sold by Sotheby’s New York on October 14, 1988. A second pair, with two branches, appeared in 1976 on the art market in Cannes, during the sale of the collections of the Villa Les Anthemis.

    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
    Rémond
    François Rémond (circa 1747-1812)

    Important Pair of Three-Light Candelabra in Matte, Patinated, and Gilt Bronze

    Candelabres035-07_HD_WEB

    Attributed to François Rémond

    Paris, late Louis XVI period, circa 1790

    Height90 Width38.5

    Provenance:

    – Probably formerly in the collection of Emily Ridgway, Marquise de Ganay (1838-1921).

    – Sold: Paris, Me Lair-Dubreuil, Galerie Georges Petit, May 8-10, 1922, lot 237 (not illustrated): “A pair of three-light candelabra in patinated and gilt bronze, each one comprising the statuette of a nude, standing child that is raising one arm, while in the other he holds an iron lance to which are attached three light branches in the form of hunting horns. At the child’s feet lies the head of an animal. Cylindrical red griotte marble bases. Louis XVI period. Height 90 cm”.

     

    Each candelabrum is made of finely chased, patinated and matte gilt bronze. Each features a blued steel lance stem to which are attached three light arms in the form of hunting horns that are tied together by a ribbon. The lower portion of the lances feature a molded band adorned by a frieze of stylized toruses framing a band of spiral fluting. They rest on naturalistic terraces with a wild boar’s head. Two finely modeled standing putti, lightly draped, complete the composition. The cylindrical red griotte marble bases, which rest on quadrangular plinths, are adorned with mille-raie toruses.

    The first mention of a pair of candelabra of this type appeared in November 1809 when the collection of the well-known connoisseur Pierre-Nicolas baron Van Hoorn Van Vlooswyck was sold; they were particularly elaborate: “90. Two girandoles featuring various hunting attributes and bronze figures, each one bearing a blued steel lance adorned with gilt garlands from which are suspended hunting horns that compose the nozzles, the whole adorned with matte gilding and standing on a pedestal of Italian griotte marble adorned with toruses, and gilt bronze bases. Total height 34 inches”. Except for the gilded garlands, the “Van Hoorn » candelabra might be the present pair. However, they should be directly compared to the description of the pair described in 1922 furing the posthumous sale of the collection of the Marquise de Ganay. One pair, nearly identical but with several variations, was formerly in the collection of the decorator Georges Geoffroy (see P. Arizzoli-Clémentel, Georges Geoffroy 1905-1971, Une légende du grand décor français, Editions Gourcuff-Gradenigo, Paris, 2016, p. 188).

    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.