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Thématiques: Rococo

Explore our rare antique french Rocaille or Rococo clocks, as well as decorative lighting, dating from the Regency or Louis XV period.

  • Gille l’Aîné  -  Dumont

    Important Rocaille Musical Mantel Clock made of Gilt Bronze with Matte Finishing


    Dial signed “Gille L’aîné à Paris” for Pierre Ier François Gille, known as Gille l’Aîné (Gille the elder, 1690-1765)

    Musical movement signed “Gille Fils à Paris” for Pierre II Gille (1723-1784)

    Case signed “Dumont”, probably for the bronze-caster Antoine-François Dumont (active circa 1750-1760)

    Paris, Louis XV period, circa 1755

    Height88 cm Width58.5 cm Depth25.5 cm

    The case stamped twice “DUMONT”

    The old springs signed and dated “Buzot Debre (December) 1755” by the springs’ maker.


    The round white enamel dial, signed “Gille L’aîné à Paris”, indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic numeral five-minute intervals by means of two pierced gilt bronze hands. The hour and half hour striking movement, whose plate is signed “Gilles L’aîné à Paris” and is numbered “590”, is housed in a rocaille case of finely chased gilt bronze with matte finishing. The clock is surmounted by a lightly draped putto that is seated on a C-scroll and holds a torch adorned with a star. The bezel is surrounded by wave motifs. The case, lavishly embellished with branches and seeded foliage, stands on scroll feet; the aperture that reveals the pendulum’s movement is adorned with a large rocaille motif. The base with leaf-decorated scroll feet is adorned with scrolls, branches, foliage and volutes; it has pierced panels adorned with cutout motifs against which appear, on the façade, oak branches and an allegorical trophy representing Music. The base contains a musical movement playing twelve tunes on the hour; it bears the signature “Gille Fils à Paris”. The bronze on which the putto is sitting is stamped “DUMONT” on the back of the clock. Another “DUMONT” stamp is observable on the case of the musical movement.


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    This rare clock, in the pure rocaille spirit of the mid-18th century, is remarkable for its base that contains a musical movement and for its general design, which is relatively similar to a model made during the same period by bronze caster Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, an example of which is illustrated in G. and A. Wannenes, Les plus belles pendules françaises de Louis XIV à l’Empire, Florence, 2013, p. 152. Nevertheless, the present clock is much more representative of the asymmetrical rocaille style.

    The two different clockmaker’s signatures on this clock, “Gille l’Aîné à Paris” and “Gille Fils à Paris”, suggest a collaboration between the father, Pierre I François Gille (1690-1765), and his son, Pierre II Gille (1723-1784). The clockwork mechanism would therefore have been made by the father, and the musical movement by the son.

    As for the stamps “DUMONT”, they were made by the creator and sole owner of this model, the bronze-caster Dumont. Considering the dating of the present clock, it is very likely that the Dumont in question is Antoine-François Dumont, who became master bronze-caster in 1753. He produced only very few examples of this unusual model.

    Among the small number of identical clocks, two clocks are known, however they lack the surmounting putto. The first, which stood on the mantel of the drawing room of the Hôtel de Feuquières, decorated by Henri Samuel, was formerly in the collection of Robert Zellinger de Balkany (illustrated in E. Evans Eerdmans, Henri Samuel, Master of the French Interior, New York, 2018, p. 146-147). The second clock, which bears the signatures of the clockmaker Martre in Bordeaux and the bronze caster Dumont, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (see H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Munich, 1986, p. 126, fig. 2.8.11, and E. Niehüser, Die französische Bronzeuhr, Munich, 1997, p. 198, fig. 39).


    Gille l’Aîné

    The signatures “Gille l’Aîné à Paris” and “Gille Fils à Paris” are those of two Parisian clockmakers, father and son. Until 1765, the signature “Gille L’Aîné” was used by Pierre I François Gille (1690-1765), while his son Pierre II Gille (1723-1784) signed his dials “Gille L’Aîné Fils”.

    After becoming a master on 18 November 1746 as the son of a master, Pierre II Gille opened a workshop in the rue Saint-Martin, then the rue Saint-Denis and the rue aux Ours. At the beginning of his career he worked with his father, then he opened his own workshop in the mid-18th century and immediately encountered great success among influential collectors. On his father’s death in 1765, Pierre II Gille took over his signature, marking his pieces “Gille l’Aîné à Paris”.

    During the 18th century, clocks bearing the signature “Gille L’aîné” were mentioned as belonging to the Marquis de Brunoy, the Prince Charles de Lorraine, the influential Farmer General Perrinet de Jars, the Duke de Gramont, the Prince de Condé and Augustus II of Saxony.

    Antoine-François Dumont

    The signature of this Parisian bronze caster – “Dumont”: is relatively rare; very little is known about his career. Pierre Verlet mentions several Parisian bronziers with that name who were active as of the second half of the 18th century, particularly a certain Antoine-François Dumont, who became a master as an apprentice on April 11, 1753 (see Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, Editions Picard, Paris, 1999, p. 415).