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Thématiques: Animal

  • 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
    Mignolet  -  Deverberie
    Joseph Mignolet or Mignonet
    Jean-Simon Deverberie (1764-1824)

    Rare Gilt and Patinated Bronze Mantel Clock

    The African Huntress


    Movement signed by Joseph Mignolet

    Case Attributed to Jean-Simon Deverberie (1764-1824)

    Paris, Directory-Consulate period, circa 1800

    Height48 cm Width38.5 cm Depth15 cm


    Dominique and Chantal Fléchon, “La pendule au nègre”, in Bulletin de l’association nationale des collectionneurs et amateurs d’horlogerie ancienne, Spring 1992, n° 63, p. 27-49.


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

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

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

    Joseph Mignolet or Mignonet

    Joseph Mignolet or Mignonet became a Master Clockmaker in 1786, on Saint-Honoré Street in Paris.

    Jean-Simon Deverberie (1764 - 1824)

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

    In the same category
    Fol  -  Saint-Germain
    Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain (1719-1791)

    Rare Gilt Bronze Mantle Clock

    “The Trumpeting Elephant”


    Fol à Paris

    The back of the base marked : S. GERMAIN

    Paris, Louis XV period, circa 1750

    Height50 Width38 Depth16

    The round enamel dial indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic numeral five-minute intervals by means of two pierced and chased gilt brass hands. It is housed in a bronze case that is finely chased and matte gilt. The movement, whose back plate is signed “Fol à Paris”, is fitted in a drum case that is adorned with flower and leaf garlands and is surmounted by a winged putto who is sitting on a cushion placed on a rock. He holds a tablet in his left hand and a divided dial in the other. The bezel is adorned with reeds and acanthus leaves; the movement’s back plate is made of brass with cutout branches and flowers. The whole is set on the back of a magnificent elephant, which stands on its four legs and raises its trunk while opening its mouth as if to trumpet. The pachyderm stands on a shaped base adorned with rocaille motifs such as C-scrolls, rocks, stylized leaves, scrolling and waves.

    The mid-18th century was a particularly fertile period for the French decorative arts. At the time every attempt was made to encourage the talent of contemporary artists and artisans and to draw artisans from all over Europe who wished to work for important Parisian collectors. This is the context within which the present clock was made. Its remarkable composition, featuring an exotic animal – an elephant – is indicative of the great attraction that “exotic” places like Asia, America, and Africa held for wealthy French collectors. The latter were fascinated by the accounts of travelers to far-off countries, as well as by the engraved illustrations in works concerning those countries.

    As concerns horology in particular, these “exotic” motifs soon became quite popular. Toward the mid-18th century, many luxury clocks were created whose movements were supported on the backs of elephants, rhinoceroses and lions; they might also be surmounted by wading birds, monkeys, Indians, or winged putti. One elephant clock surmounted by a monkey that originally held an umbrella is in the Royal Spanish collection (see J. Ramon Colon de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio nacional, Madrid, 1987, p. 23, catalogue n° 4). A second clock of the same model is in the collection of the Hessian princes in the Fasanerie Castle in Fulda (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue Gehäuse der Zeit, Uhren aus fünf Jahrhunderten im Besitz der Hessischen Hausstiftung, 2002, p. 59). One “rhinoceros” clock surmounted by a young Indian is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Les éditions de l’Amateur, Paris, 1997, p. 129.

    The composition of the present clock, which was created by the bronze caster Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, became extremely popular among important 18th century Parisian collectors. Among the small number of identical clocks known today, some of whose bases contain musical movements, one clock, whose dial is signed “Moisy à Paris” and whose base is marked “St Germain”, was formerly displayed in the Caroll Gallery in Munich (see R. Mühe and Horand M. Vogel, Horloges anciennes, Manuel des horloges de table, des horloges murales et des pendules de parquet européennes, Fribourg, 1978, p. 107, n° 131, and H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 123, fig. 2.8.3). Two other examples were sold at auction – one, from the collection of Florence J. Gould, was sold at Sotheby’s Monaco on June 25, 1984, lot 715. The other, which had formerly belonged to Count François de Salverte, was offered on the Dijon art market in November 1997. Two further such clocks are in public collections in France and Belgium. The first of these, whose dial is signed “Viger à Paris”, was donated to the Treasure Room of the Tournai Cathedral by the Princes of Ligne (illustrated in P. Verlet, Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, Editions Picard, Paris, 1999, p. 192, fig. 219). The second, which is lacking its original dial, was purchased by the Imperial Garde-meuble in 1865 for Fontainebleau Castle (illustrated in Tardy, La pendule française, Ire Partie: de l’Horloge gothique à la Pendule Louis XV, 1967, p. 173). One further clock that was almost certainly identical, was estimated at 108 livres in the probate inventory of the Duchess de Brancas in 1784: “A cartel clock in the name of Jean-Baptiste Baillon with an elephant surmounted by a small Cupid”.


    The signature “Fol à Paris” appears to be that of Jean Fol, one of the most famous clockmakers of the reign of Louis XV. He was active in Paris during the second third of the 18th century. While little is known about his career, some of his clocks were mentioned as belonging to important Parisian collectors as of the second half of the 18th century. Among these collectors were Antoine-Pierre Maussion de Montbré, Claude-Louis, Count of Saint-Germain, and Antoine-Louis Rouillé, Count de Jouy. During the late 1760s or the early part of the following decade, he appears to have entrusted the family workshop to his son, Jean II, known as “Fol the younger”, who was named Valet de Chambre-Horloger Ordinaire du Roi. In 1767, when the probate inventory of the widow of the powerful Count de Peyre was drawn up, two watches, one of which was signed “Fol père”, and the other “Fol fils”, were valued  in a notarial deed.

    Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain (1719 - 1791)

    He was probably the most renowned Parisian of the mid 18th century. Active as of 1742, he did become a master craftsman until July 1748. He became famous for his many clock and cartel cases, such as his Diana the Huntress (an example is in the Louvre Museum), the clock supported by two Chinamen (a similar example is in the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Lyon), as well as several clocks based on animal themes, including elephant and rhinoceros clocks (an example in the Louvre Museum). In the early 1760’s he played an important role in the renewal of the French decorative arts and the development of the Neo-classical style, an important example of which may be seen in his Genius of Denmark clock, made for Frederic V and based on a model by Augustin Pajou (1765, in the Amalienborg Palace, Copenhagen). Saint-Germain also made several clocks inspired by the theme of Learning, or Study, based on a model by Louis-Félix de La Rue (examples in the Louvre Museum, the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York). Along with his clock cases, Saint-Germain also made bronze furniture mounts, such as fire dogs, wall lights, and candelabra. His entire body of work bears witness to his remarkable skills as a chaser and bronzeworker, as well as to his extraordinary creativity. He retired in 1776.