Rare Red Marble and Gilt and Patinated Bronze Desk Regulator
Case attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire
Paris, late Louis XVI period, circa 1790
The round white enamel dial, signed “Jacquet à Paris”, indicates the Roman numeral hours, the Arabic numeral fifteen-minute intervals, the date and the days of the week with their corresponding zodiac signs, by means of four hands, two of which are made of pierced and gilt bronze. The seconds are indicated by a central blued steel hand. The hour and half hour striking movement is housed in a fine neoclassical case with glazed sides. The bimetallic pendulum, with its heavy bob, enhances the precision of the mechanism; it swings above a rectangular plaque that is decorated with an oval medallion that is centered by a radiating floral motif framed by wide stylized scrolls, flowers, and palmettes. The lower portion of the dial is framed by a ribbon-tied flower and leaf garland; the lateral pilasters feature reserves adorned with vases decorated with rams’ heads issuing rose branches that terminate in ribbon-tied wheat sheaves. The entablature is adorned with laurel branches and mascarons punctuated by lyres. The protruding cornice, adorned with leaf friezes, egg-and-dart friezes, and twisted cords, is surmounted by a molded plinth decorated with beadwork and flanked by grooved rosettes. The indented base, adorned with waterleaf friezes, stands on a plinth that is supported by four flattened ball feet, with applied putti musicians and low-relief plaques depicting children at play, executed in the manner of Clodion.
This remarkable design of the present rare desk regulator was inspired by horological models that created by the best Parisian clockmakers, during the two final decades of the 18th century. Housed in a neoclassical rectangular case with glazed sides, it may be considered of the most successful horological creations produced during the final years of the reign of Louis XVI. At the time, the best clockmakers devoted their undivided attention to the beauty of the dial and mechanism. To house these mechanisms, they chose the finest quality bronze cases, which were produced by the most exceptional bronziers to be found in the city of Paris. The present example stands out due to the extraordinary quality of its gilding and chasing. This is also the basis for our attribution to Pierre-Philippe Thomire, the most famous Parisian bronze caster of the period.
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.