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  • Thomire
    Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1757-1843)

    Rare Gilt and Patinated Bronze Mantel Clock Likely Made to Commemorate the Victory of the Battle of Wagram

    “The Tower of Markgrafneusiedl”


    Attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire

    Paris, Empire period, circa 1810


    The round white enamel dial indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic numeral fifteen-minute intervals by means of two pierced gilt bronze hands. The movement is housed in a finely chased gilt and patinated bronze case with matte and burnished finishing. It takes the form of a medieval tower that rests on a naturalistic rocky terrace. The door, which is flanked by two posts, has a chased doorframe with an arched pediment. The tower is entirely chased to imitate bricks, with arrow-slit windows. It is further adorned by engine turning, including the dial’s bezel. The upper portion of the clock is crenellated, with two cannons on carriages fitted into the crenellations. The cannon balls sit on a brick terrace centered by a flagpost.

    The remarkable composition of the present clock appears to be related to the Battle of Wagram, one of the most famous Napoleonic battles, in which France was pitted against Imperial Austria. On the first day of fighting the French and Austrian forces appeared to be evenly matched, but on July 6, 1809 Marshal Davout heroically seized the Markgrafneusiedl Tower, a dominant post from which the Austrian artillery had intensely bombarded the French forces. Thus the French troops gained an advantage over their adversary and, were able to gain a strong foothold on the Wagram plateau. This episode of military heroism, of the type that was greatly appreciated by the Emperor, was greeted with enthusiasm in Paris. It is therefore not surprising that a renowned bronze caster would create an image of the fortified tower that had been taken from the enemy and marked the moment the French gained the upper hand in the battle. As was often the case in the Parisian decorative arts at the time, this artistic initiative was imitated by others. Here, it takes the form of a rare horological model, since to the best of our knowledge this is the only such example known. The exceptional quality of its chasing and gilding support an attribution to Pierre-Philippe Thomire, who may have made a comparable case circa 1820, depicting a cylindrical tower surmounted by an orrery, with a movement by clockmaker François Ducommun; two such examples are known. The first is illustrated in P. Heuer and K. Maurice, European Pendulum Clocks, Decorative Instruments of Measuring Time, Munich, 1998, p. 327, fig. 727. The second is in the Musée d’horlogerie in La-Chaux-de-Fonds (see M. Favre, Musée d’Horlogerie de La-Chaux-de-Fonds, undated, p. 75).

    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.

    Jean-Baptiste III Albert Baillon (?-1772)

    Rare Gilt Bronze “tête de poupée” Pendule d’Alcôve with Matte and Burnished Finishing


    Paris, early Louis XV period, circa 1725

    Height28.5 Width12.5 Depth10.5

    The round white enamel dial, signed “Jean-Baptiste Baillon”, indicates the Roman numeral hours alternating with applied gold fleur de lys and the Arabic numeral five-minute intervals by means of two chased and pierced gilt bronze hands. The hour- and half hour-striking movement, with signed plate, is housed in a magnificent waisted case of finely chased gilt bronze with matte and burnished finishing. At the top of the clock is a curved plaque with a stylized pinecone finial emerging from a spiral rosette, within a reserve decorated with radiating lozenges centered by flowers. The pediment is adorned with an egg and dart frieze. All the surfaces of the case feature shaped reserves framed by plain bands, which are adorned with latticework centered by quatrefoils. The sides are embellished with framed medallions containing male and female profiles in low relief against matted grounds; stylized shells are placed at the top and bottom. The quadrangular base is adorned with a frieze of alternating wheat sheaves and mille-raie bands. The clock is raised upon four flattened and molded ball feet.

    The unusual composition of the present rare pendule d’alcôve, of the type known as “tête de poupée”, makes it one of the most elaborate Parisian luxury clocks of its period. Its remarkable design – which is reminiscent of some of the preparatory drawings by Daniel Marot – and the exceptional quality of its chasing and gilding make the clock quite extraordinary. It should be noted that the present clock relates stylistically to works by André-Charles Boulle, one of the most famous and talented artisans of the period. Among the small number of identical clocks, some of which present variations in composition and decoration, one should single out an example with on-demand striking, whose dial is signed “Etienne Lenoir à Paris”, and which has a mobile carrying handle; it is illustrated in G. and A. Wannenes, Les plus belles pendules françaises, De Louis XIV à l’Empire, Editions Polistampa, Florence, 2013, p.72.

    Jean-Baptiste III Albert Baillon (? - 1772)

    Was one of the most skilled and innovative clockmakers of his day. Baillon achieved almost unprecedented success to become, in the words of F.J. Britten, “the richest watchmaker in Europe”. One of the most important clockmakers of the 18th century, he was no doubt the most famous member of an important horological dynasty. His success was largely due to his ability to organise a vast and thriving private factory in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which was unique in the history of 18th century horology.

    Managed from 1748-57 by Jean Jodin (1715-61) it remained in activity until 1765 when Baillon closed it. Renowned horologist Ferdinand Berthoud was impressed by its scale and the quality of the pieces produced; in 1753 he noted: (Baillon’s) “house is the finest and richest Clock Shop. Diamonds are used not only to decorate his Watches, but even Clocks. He has made some whose cases were small gold boxes, decorated with diamond flowers imitating nature. His house in Saint-Germain is a kind of factory. It is full of Workmen continually labouring for him…for he alone makes a large proportion of the Clocks and Watches [of Paris]”. He supplied the most illustrious clientele, not least the French and Spanish royal family, the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne as well as distinguished members of Court and the cream of Parisian society.

    Baillon’s father, Jean-Baptiste II (d. 1757) a Parisian maître and his grandfather, Jean-Baptiste I from Rouen were both clockmakers, as was his own son, Jean-Baptiste IV Baillon (1752 – c.1773). Baillon himself was received as a maître-horloger in 1727. In 1738 he secured his first important appointment as Valet de Chambre-Horloger Ordinaire de la Reine. Sometime before 1748 he was made Premier Valet de Chambre de la Reine and in 1770, Premier Valet de Chambre and Valet de Chambre-Horloger Ordinaire de la Dauphine Marie-Antoinette. By 1738 he was established, appropriately, in the Place Dauphine, and after 1751 in the rue Dauphine.

    Baillon used only the finest cases and dials. The latter were supplied by Antoine-Nicolas Martinière and Chaillou while his cases were supplied by Jean-Baptiste Osmond, Balthazar Lieutaud, the Caffiéris, Vandernasse, Edmé Roy and especially Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain (1719-91).

    His success allowed Jean-Baptiste Baillon to amass a huge fortune, valued at the time of his death on April 8, 1772 at 384,000 livres. His collection of fine and decorative arts was auctioned on June 16, 1772, while his remaining stock, valued at 55,970 livres, was offered at sale on February 23, 1773. The sale included 126 finished watches, totalling 31,174 livres and 127 finished watch movements at 8,732 livres. His clocks, with a total value of 14,618 livres, included 86 clocks, 20 clock movements, seven marquetry clock cases, one porcelain clock case and eight bronze cases.

    Today one can admire Baillon’s work in some of the world’s most prestigious collections, including the Louvre, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Musée National des Techniques, the Petit Palais and the Jacquemart-André Museum in Paris; Versailles; the Musée Paul Dupuy in Toulouse; the Residenz Bamberg; the Neues Schloss in Bayreuth; the Museum für Kunsthandwerk, Frankfurt; the Residenz in Munich and the Schleissheim Castle. Further museums include the Royal Art and History Museum in Brussels; the Spanish Patrimonio Nacional; the Metropolitan Museum in New York; the Newark Museum; the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore and Dalmeny House in South Queensferry.

    Joseph-Marie Revel (?-1811)

    Rare Gilt Bronze Cage Clock



    Paris, Directoire period, circa 1795

    Height42.5 Width26.5 Depth17.5

    The enamel dial, signed Revel, indicates the hours in Roman numerals, the minutes and date in Arabic numerals. The superb glazed architectural case is in finely chased gilt bronze. The arched pediment is ornamented with gadrooning and beading, with four pinecone finials; a pierced and fringed drapery hangs under the dial; the sides are composed of finely fluted pilasters with moulded bases and capitals. The stepped rectangular base is adorned with a pierced palmette and leaf frieze.

    The elegant composition of this clock bears witness to the aesthetic explorations of Parisian bronziers and clockmakers of the last quarter of the 18th century. As of the mid-century a new artistic current, encouraged by artists and influential collectors, drew inspiration from recent events such as the discoveries of the ancient Roman cities of Pompey and Herculaneum. Enthusiastic collectors such as the Count of Caylus and Ange-Laurent Lalive de Jully gave a new impulse to the French decorative arts, still marked by the rococo style in vogue during the Louis XV period. Influenced by the forms and decorative vocabulary of Greek and Roman antiquity, the new Neo-classical style favoured pure lines and classical motifs such as the antique borne or cippus that gives its form to the present clock. The new style showcased the skill of the period’s remarkable artisans, as well as the mastery of many different materials.

    Among the comparable examples known, two slightly later models feature chasing of lesser quality. The first, signed Carcel jeune, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age à nos jours, Paris, 1997, p. 184; a second clock was delivered in September 1807 to the Fontainebleau Palace by Lepaute, uncle and nephew; it is still in the Fontainebleau collection. (see J-P. Samoyault, Musée national du château de Fontainebleau, Catalogue des collections de mobilier, 1. Pendules et bronze d’ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire, RMN, Paris, 1989, p. 65, catalogue n° 26). An identical clock, also signed Revel, was formerly in the collection of Peter Zervudachi; another signed Lepaute is in a private collection (illustrated in P. Heuer and K. Maurice, European Pendulum Clocks, Decorative Instruments of measuring Time, Munich, 1988, p. 65, fig. 108).

    Joseph-Marie Revel (? - 1811)

    Very little is known about this clockmaker, who was nevertheless very famous during his lifetime. Briefly mentioned in the Tardy’s Dictionnaire des horlogers under the name of Joseph Revel, he was actually named Joseph-Marie; he died in Paris in 1811. After becoming a master on August 12, 1775, he opened a workshop in the Vieille rue du Temple, and was mentioned in the Palais Royal from 1787 to 1790, in the Palais Egalité around 1800, and in the Palais Tribunat from 1804 to 1806. Several probate inventories dating from the early decades of the 19th century mention a number of his clocks; a clock by Revel was estimated in 1817 after the death of Adélaïde de Lespinasse-Langeac, the wife of the chevalier de Costalin; in 1821 another was in the collection of the Countess de Medem, Anne-Charlotte-Dorothée, the widow of the powerful Duke de Courlande.

    In the same category
    Bausse  -  Coteau
    Louis Bausse
    Joseph Coteau (1740-1801)

    A Rare Matte and Burnished Gilt Bronze, Blue and Painted Glass and White Marble “Pyramid” Clock


    The enamel dial by Joseph Coteau

    Paris, late Louis XVI period, circa 1790

    Height56 Width23.5 Depth18.5

    The round white enamel dial, signed “Ls Bausse/Cour-Mandar n°7”, indicates the Arabic numeral hours and fifteen-minute intervals; it is adorned with a frieze of alternating round and oval beads. It is housed in a drum case with oscillating pendulum decorated with beadwork, which is placed in the centre of a portico formed by four chased gilt bronze columns with spiral fluting that are linked by beadwork chains suspended from rings with hanging oval pendant beads. The columns support an entablature adorned with vases with ring handles that are surmounted by flower bouquets and centered by a fine blue glass pyramid in the form of an obelisk, whose four sides are decorated with bead friezes and painted glass medallions depicting landscapes and a scene featuring an allegory of Time. The upper part of the pyramid is embellished with suspended chains and is surmounted by an armillary sphere. The plinth, whose balusters are topped by flower vases, has a central mirror, and is itself supported on a white Carrara marble base whose facade is adorned with a painted glass panel depicting Diana in her chariot drawn by does, while the young shepherd Acteon sleeps. The clock is raised upon four knurled toupie feet.

    The 18th century in France was perhaps the period during which artisans displayed the greatest amount of imagination and inventiveness. There was an unprecedented renewal of forms and motifs, and new and previously unknown models began to appear in the esthetic vocabulary. In the field of horological creation – and particularly during the second half of the century – architectural elements, classically draped female figures, mythological figures, vases of all types, animals, etc., were used as supports or ornamental motifs for cases housing elaborate mechanisms made by the finest Parisian horologists of the period.

    The “pyramid” or “obelisk” clock was created at this time. A great variety of compositions, often quite elaborate, are known, including an example in marble and gilt bronze – which must have been very popular given the number of surviving clocks of this type – surmounted by an armillary sphere (two clocks of this type appear in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Paris, 1997, p. 219). Other clocks are quite large; one such example is in the Wallace Collection in London (illustrated in P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Furniture, I, London, 1996, p. 488). The present clock, whose dial is signed “Ls Bausse”, is among the most unusual and luxurious of these clocks.

    It was created using materials that were either precious or rarely used in clocks at the time: blue colored glass and painted glass panels. To the best of our knowledge, only two other identical clocks are known to exist, featuring several variations in their motifs. The first, whose dial has been attributed to Joseph Coteau, is illustrated in Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème partie: du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1975, p. 264. The second, whose dial has also been attributed to Coteau and which bears the signature of the clockmaker Bausse, is in the Musée national du Château de Versailles (Inv. V5188).

    Louis Bausse

    This Parisian clockmaker, not mentioned in the literature, appears to have been named master horologist during the revolutionary period. His workshop address, n° 7 Cour Mandar, confirms this hypothesis, for the street was created in 1790. He was probably the maker of a clock of the  “à l’Amérique” type, based on the model registered by Jean-Simon Deverberie on the 3rd of pluviose, year VII, which appeared on the market several years ago. A clockmaker by the name of Bausse, but whose first name was Pierre-Guillaume, signed the movement of a clock depicting Telemachus driving his chariot under the protection of Athena (see P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française, Paris, 1997, p. 417); he was perhaps the son of the present clock’s maker, possibly having taken over his father’s workshop during the Empire.

    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).

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

    Rare Gilt Bronze Rococo Desk Clock


    Case Attributed to Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain

    Paris, Louis XV period, circa 1750

    Height22.5 Width14 Depth9

    The enamel dial indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic five-minute intervals by means of two pierced gilt bronze hands. The magnificent waisted gilt bronze case is finely chased and gilt. The movement, with complications and striking by means of a pull cord, is signed “Stollenwerck à Paris”; it is housed in a case that is elaborately chased with rococo motifs on a matted ground, including wave motifs, asymmetrical foliage, flowers and scrolling, cabochons, shells, latticework centred by flowerets, C scrolls and ribbon-tied rods. The clock is raised upon four foliate-decorated scroll feet.

    The design of the present clock, which is typical of the more subdued rococo style of the mid 18th century, stands out due to its well-balanced proportions and its exceptionally fine gilt bronze case. Its excellent quality suggests an attribution to Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, one of the most important Parisian bronze casters of the reign of Louis XV. Very few comparable clocks are known, one example of which is illustrated in E. Niehüser, Die französische Bronzeuhr, Eine Typologie der figürlichen Darstellungen, Munich, 1997, p. 198, fig. 38. A second clock, today in a private collection, is pictured in Tardy, La pendule française, 1er partie: De l’horloge gothique à la pendule Louis XV, Paris, 1967, p. 166. One further similar example, with a dial signed “Etienne Le Noir à Paris”, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Paris, 1997, p. 112, fig. F.

    Michel Stollenwerck

    Michel Stollenwerck became a Master Clockmaker in Paris on April 14, 1746.

    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.

    Important Gilt Bronze and Swedish Porphyry War Trophy Mantel Clock


    Sweden, first third of the 19th century, circa 1815-1820

    Height56 Width17.5 Depth17.5

    The gilt bronze dial, adorned with a frieze of stylised foliage, indicates the hours, in Arabic numerals and the graduated minutes, by means of a pair of blued steel hands. It is set in a moulded, truncated Swedish porphyry column, which rests on a square base cut from the same block of marble. Surrounding the dial are high-relief ormolu mounts depicting a ribbon-tied swag of oak leaves and acorns and two Hercules’ clubs. The column is surmounted by a very fine military trophy adorned with two olive branches and made up of shields bearing foliage, palmettes, a rosette, and winged thunderbolts, a beam with a ram’s head, a quiver with feather-topped arrows, a flail, an axe, and a long warrior’s tunic topped by a plumed helmet.