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Thématiques: Turning Circles

  • 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.

    Roque  -  Noël
    Joseph-Léonard Roque (?-after 1789)
    Marcel-François Noël (active circa 1748-1787)

    Important Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock with Matte and Burnished Finishing

    Pendule401-01_HD_PRESSE

    The Bronzes Attributed to Marcel-François Noël

    Paris, early Louis XVI period, circa 1775

    Height70.5 Width30 Depth30

    The movement, signed “Roque à Paris”, strikes the hours and half hours. It is housed in a covered oval vase made of finely chased gilt bronze with matte and burnished finishing. The vase is divided in two by two cadrans tournants with enamel cartouches; they indicate the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic numeral five-minute intervals by means of two blued steel pointers. The simulated cover is adorned with gadrooning and has a leaf-decorated finial. The applied handles are surmounted by roosters, symbols of Vigilance, and are adorned with vine leaf garlands.

    The lower portion of the vase is gadrooned and rests on an interlace-decorated knop with cabochons; the spreading pedestal is decorated with acanthus leaves. The tall, round base, with concave molding, is decorated with a laurel torus and a garland of grapes and vine leaves. On one of the sides, there are small winding holes, hidden behind two sliding panels, for the movement and the striking. The square shaped base is made of black marble and gilt bronze; it features rosettes and pierced friezes with alternating ovals and flowers against burgundy-colored cloth. The clock is raised upon four chased feet.

    The present monumental vase-shaped clock, which is based on an allegorical theme, is one of the most characteristic models of Parisian neoclassicism from the early years of the reign of Louis XVI. It stands out from among the numerous other vase-shaped clocks due to its originality, perfectly balanced composition, and the high quality of the treatment of its bronze mounts. With its sober juxtaposition of bronze and marble, it may be compared to the small number of known similar cadrans tournant clocks, which were often one-of-a-kind pieces. One clock housed in a blue porcelain vase with gold veins, in imitation lapis lazuli, is in the Louvre Museum in Paris (illustrated in J. Durand, M. Bimbenet-Privat and F. Dassas, Décors, mobilier et objets d’art du Musée du Louvre de Louis XIV à Marie-Antoinette, Paris, 2014, p. 452, catalogue n° 189). A second example, in alabaster, was made by clockmaker Antide Janvier around 1788 (see M. Hayard, Antide Janvier 1751-1835, Horloger des étoiles, Villeneuve-Tolosane, 1995, p. 64-65). One further clock, with a movement by Roque, along with a pendant calendar of the same model, is in Waddesdon Manor; during the 18th century it was in the collection of the Marquis de Brunoy (illustrated in J-D. Augarde, Les ouvriers du Temps, La pendule à Paris de Louis XIV à Napoléon Ier, Genève, 1996, p. 395, fig. 289).

    The attribution of the finely chased bronze case to Parisian artisan Marcel-François Noël is based on the fact that a clock of the same model was mentioned in July 1778 as being in the shop of that artisan (see J-D. Augarde, Les ouvriers du Temps, La pendule à Paris de Louis XIV à Napoléon Ier, Genève, 1996, p. 187, fig. 149). An identical clock, also by Roque, was described in a Paris sale in the mid 1770s: “Another clock, made by Roque, in the shape of a vase, marking the hours and minutes on two mobile dials, with a rooster on each side, (symbolizing vigilance), decorated with garlands of grape leaves and grapes, a rhinestone star marking the hours, all in gilt ormolu bronze, being two feet tall”.

    Among the very small number of identical models known, one example with a movement by Barancourt in Paris, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Les éditions de l’Amateur, Paris, 1997, p. 287, fig. D (see also E. Niehüser, Die französische Bronzeuhr, Eine Typologie der figürlichen Darstellungen, Munich, 1997, p. 262, fig. 1271).

    Joseph-Léonard Roque (? - after 1789)

    He became a master clockmaker on July 31, 1770, and was one of the most important Parisian horlogists of the second half of the 18th century. He probably trained initially with the mécanicien Alexis Magny, then entered the workshop of Claude-Siméon Passemant, where he remained until his death in 1769. The following year Roque was registered as a master and opened a workshop in the “column building of the Vieux Louvre, moving to the passage du Saumon as of 1772. Named Horloger du Roi, he quickly gained renown, specializing in luxury clocks, and working with the finest artisans in Paris. Among his clientele there were several influential aristocrats, such as Jean-René de la Tour du Pin, Marquis de la Charce, and François-Frédéric de Varennes, Marquis de Bouron, as well as important financiers, including Court banker Nicolas Beaujon, Farmer-General Tavernier de Boulongne, and banker Pierre Sévène. Several clocks made by Roque were mentioned in inventories during the Revolutionary period as being in the Royal French collections. These clocks had mostly been made for Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Marie-Antoinette.



    Marcel-François Noël (active circa 1748 - 1787)

    Marcel-François Noël was a Parisian gilder active circa 1748-1787.



    In the same category
    Festeau
    Jacques-François Festeau (1725-after 1789)

    Rare Porcelain, White Carrara Marble, and Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock Shaped as a Rotunda-Form Temple, with Matte and Burnished Finishing

    Pendule391-04_HD_WEB

    “Festeau”

    Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1780-1785

    Height48

    The present neoclassical rotunda-form temple is in fact an elaborate and luxurious timekeeping instrument, made of finely chased bronze with matte and burnished finishing and white Carrara marble. The time is indicated on two cadrans tournants with enameled cartouches; the upper one indicates the five-minute intervals in Arabic numerals, and the lower one shows the Roman numeral hours, with the time being shown by a blued steel arrow hand. The hour- and half hour-striking movement is visible, being set on an entablature with pillars in the form of allegorical female figures that support the rimmed dome, which is adorned with a band composed of a triple knurled frieze that is further embellished with flower garlands that are hung from ribbon-tied roundels. The clock is surmounted by a plume that emerges from a tazza whose rim is adorned with leaves; it is further decorated with tassels. The round terrace, which features a balustrade and bears the signature “Festeau à Paris”, rests upon four fluted and shaped columns with capitals adorned with egg and dart friezes and bases embellished with laurel toruses. In its center stands a bisque porcelain group depicting a rocky terrain with a naturalistic tree trunk and tufts of grass, on which a boy is standing, accompanied by his dog. The round base, which has a sunken rim adorned with a beadwork frieze, rests upon four lions’ paw feet.

    The remarkable rotunda design of the present mantel clock in the form of an antique temple was inspired by the “Temple of Love” that was built in 1778 by architect Richard Mique at the request of Queen Marie-Antoinette; it stood in the garden of the Petit Trianon. That royal construction, called a “fabrique”, was unanimously admired for its perfect beauty and harmonious proportions. It inspired many examples of the French decorative arts of the time, including horological pieces. From the time of its construction of the queen’s rotunda, it served as direct or indirect inspiration for rotunda, or “temple” clock models. Thus, in 1786, an example that was probably quite similar to the present clock stood in the drawing room of Charles-Guillaume-Louis, Marquis de Broglie; its value was estimated at 144 livres: “A mantle clock with cadran tournant, with four white marble columns, with striking and gilt copper ornaments, and a small bisque figure”. Today only a small number of similar models are known to have survived. Two examples deserve particular mention: the first is in the Paris Musée des Arts Décoratifs, while a second example is in the Kunstindustrimuseet in Copenhagen (illustrated in Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème Partie, Du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1974). The signature “Festeau à Paris” might be that of several Parisian clockmakers from the same family, which was active during the two final decades of the 18th century. Nevertheless, it would seem that Jacques-François Festeau (1725-après 1789) was the maker of the présent clock.

    Jacques-François Festeau (1725 - after 1789)

    The son of a master, after himself becoming a master in March 1751, he opened workshops successively in the Cour du Palais in 1752, the Marché-Neuf in 1758, the rue Saint-André des Arts in 1778, and in the rue des Canettes in 1781. He quickly gained renown and was much admired by important connoisseurs of Parisian luxury horology.



    In the same category
    Daguerre
    Dominique Daguerre

    Rare White Marble and Gilt Bronze Cadrans Tournants Mantel Clock

    Pendule370-02_BD_MAIL

    Almost Certainly Made under the Supervision of Dominique Daguerre

    Paris, late Louis XVI period, circa 1785

    Height44 Width28.5 Depth17

    The two cadrans tournants, or revolving ring dials, indicate the Roman numeral hours and Arabic numeral minutes on rectangular white enamel cartouches. The unusual case, in the form of a cylindrical reliquary, is elaborately adorned with finely chased and gilt bronze. The clock is surmounted by a white marble dome that is adorned with beadwork, flower garlands, and an uppermost leafy bouquet. It is supported by pierced lyre-shaped elements that alternate with medallions of birds and flowers, with decorative laurel branches. The round base is adorned with leaf motifs. The pedestal, chased with wide acanthus leaves, is supported by a round white marble base that is embellished with ribbon-tied floral garlands. On either side, standing on the terrace, are two young winged Cupids that are wearing light draperies held in place by a strap around their chests; they appear to support the movement. The lobed white statuary Carrara marble plinth is elegantly adorned with beadwork and pierced friezes of leafy scrolls and stylized rosettes. The clock is raised upon four finely chased and fluted feet that enhance the elegance of the composition.

    The particularly elaborate design of the present clock was freely inspired by a slightly different composition that also features two identical figures of children. That second clock, which was quite successful, was very likely made by a Parisian bronzier such as François Rémond or Pierre-Philippe Thomire, under the supervision of Dominique Daguerre, the most important Parisian merchant of luxury objects of the time; he must have owned the model and therefore could have produced several variations of it. Similar clocks include an example whose dial is signed Guydamour, and which is now in the Frick Collection in New York (illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 280, fig. 4.13.2). A second clock, perhaps the same as the preceding one, was formerly in the Russian Imperial Collection; it was sold at auction in Berlin in 1928 (Rudolph Lepke, November 6-7, 1928, lot 169).

    A small number of clocks that are identical to the present one are known; they sometimes feature small variations in their ornamental motifs. One clock of this model was formerly in the collection of Madame Brach (see S. de Ricci, Le style Louis XVI, Mobilier et décoration, Paris, plate 163). A second example was included in the sale of the well-known Florence J. Gould collection (sold Sotheby’s, Monaco, June 25-26, 1984, lot 626). A third example, bearing a cartouche with the signature of the clockmaker Lenepveu, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age à nos jours, Paris, 1997, p. 295. One further such clock was in the collection of Annie Kane and is today in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Inv.26.260.37).

    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.



    Cronier  -  Osmond
    Antoine Cronier (1732-après 1806)
    Robert Osmond (1711-1789)

    Exceptional Gilt Bronze Mantle Clock in the form of a Neoclassical Lidded Vase with Matte and Burnished Finishing

    Pendule406-02_HD_WEB

    The Case Attributed to Robert Osmond

    Paris, Transition period between Louis XV-Louis XVI, circa 1770

    Height65.5 Width28

    The movement is housed in a neoclassical case shaped as a classical lidded vase made of finely chased gilt bronze with matte and burnished finishing. The time is indicated by two silvered copper cercles tournants, one indicating the Arabic numeral five-minute intervals, and the other the Roman numeral hours alternating with stylized four-leaf clovers; the upper band is surmounted by the signature of the clockmaker: “Cronier à Paris”, which is engraved in the bronze. The time is indicated by the tongues of two snakes with finely chased scales, which are coiled around the body of the vase and lid. The vase has a truncated oval shape, its lid terminates in a seed finial that emerges from a bouquet of finely detailed leaves; its applied Greek handles are adorned with mille-raie patterns and a laurel-leaf swag; the lower portion of the vase, adorned with lambrequins, is supported on a molded pedestal that is decorated with ribbon-tied reeds. The base, in the form of a truncated column with wide fluting; the base, with plain toruses, features a plain torus, surmounted by a cavetto molding with reserves and rosettes. It is decorated with fringed draperies that hang from pastilles. The base is quadrangular.

    The remarkable design of this important mantel clock, and the exceptional quality of its chasing, gilding, and matte and burnished finishing, offers a perfect illustration of the neoclassical decorative style that was began in the mid 18th century due to the influence of a group of important Parisian collectors, including the Count de Caylus and Ange-Laurent Lalive de Jully. The style came about as a reaction against the rococo models popular during the reign of Louis XV, which were considered to be old fashioned; the rococo style had dominated the French decorative arts for several decades. The neoclassical revival, called “a return to classicism”, was influenced by the archeological discoveries made in the ancient Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, near Naples. The fabulous discoveries that were made there continued to influence French and European decorative arts for several decades.

    This is the context within which the present clock was made. Its elaborate neoclassical design, its size – very large for a “vase” type clock – and the fact that very few identical clocks are known, make it one of the most spectacular vase clocks of the period. Its design seems to have been influenced by the work of Jean-Louis Prieur, and in particular by a drawing by Prieur that is today preserved in the University of Warsaw. In addition, a vase-form clock that is adorned with figures, and whose body is quite similar to the present example, is on display in the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon (see H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 167). However, despite these similarities, the present clock most closely resembles several pieces by the famous bronzier Robert Osmond, who made a specialty of clocks shaped as classical vases. It is particularly close to a model in the Zähringer Museum in Baden-Baden (see P. Verlet, Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, Editions Picard, Paris, 1987, p. 110, fig. 131).

    To the best of our knowledge, only four other identical clocks are known today: the first, signed “Lepaute”, was offered at the 19th century sale of the sumptuous collection of William, 12th Duke of Hamilton in Hamilton Palace (sold Christie, Manson & Woods, 17 June to 20 July 1882); it appears to be the one described in an important collection during the second half of the 18th century: “A vase-shaped clock, with square handles, laurel garlands on fluted columns, truncated with draperies, all in ormolu gilt bronze. Turning dial. Two snakes bearing the minutes hand. The movement is by Lepaute”. The second, whose bronze is engraved with the name of the clockmaker Furet, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Les éditions de l’Amateur, Paris, 1997, p. 284, fig. B. The third, which combines gilt bronze and white marble, and features several decorative variations, is in the Louvre Museum in Paris (illustrated in Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème Partie: Du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1975, p. 289, fig. 5, and in E. Niehüser, Die französische Bronzeuhr, Eine Typologie der figürlichen Darstellungen, Editions Callwey, Munich, 1997, p. 263, fig. 1292). A fourth clock of this type, which is identical to the present clock, is part of the horological collection of Pavlovsk Palace, near Saint Petersburg, formerly the summer residence of Tsar Paul I. It also bears the signature of clockmaker Antoine Cronier engraved in the bronze and has been attributed to the bronze caster Osmond (see The State Culture Preserve Pavlovsk, Full Catalogue of the Collections, Tome X, Métal-Bronze, Volume I, Clocks, regulators, cartels, Saint Petersburg, 2011, p. 24, catalogue n° 7).

    Antoine Cronier (1732 - après 1806)

    Antoine Crosnier, or Cronier, was one of the most important Parisian clockmakers of the second half of the 18th century. The son of a Parisian master joiner, he became a master on March 1, 1763 and opened a workshop in the rue Saint-Honoré. He quickly became very successful among influential Parisian collectors of luxury horology, and worked with the finest artisans of the time, including the cabinetmaker Jean-Pierre Latz, the bronziers François Vion and the Osmonds, and the gilder Honoré Noël. During the 18th century, several of his clocks were mentioned as belonging to the Marshal de Choiseul-Stainville, the Marquis de Sainte-Amaranthe, the Duke des Deux-Ponts and the Prince Belosselsky-Belozersky.



    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.



    White Marble and Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock

    “The Temple of Diana”

    Pendule329-03_HD_WEB

    Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1785

    Height61

    This clock, modelled as an antique round temple, has an upper portion composed of ormolu-mounted marble arches through which the movement may be viewed. Surmounting the whole, a globe with two revolving enamel ring dials indicates the hours in Roman numerals and the minutes in Arabic numerals; at its summit a winged cupid holds an arrow in his left hand and a bow in his right. The entablature beneath the marble arches is ornamented with alternating triglyphs and sprays of leaves and flowers. The five fluted white marble columns have Doric capitals and quadrangular bases mounted with chased gilt bronze laurel leaf tores and sunflowers. The gilt bronze figure standing in the temple represents Diana the huntress, accompanied by her greyhound. The round stepped base is of white statuary marble.

    The clock’s elaborate architectural design derives from the antique Greek and Roman temples, both real and fictitious, such as those that were depicted by Hubert Robert and other artists in the late 18th century. It appears, however, to have been specifically inspired by the Temple de l’Amour, built in 1777-1778 for Marie-Antoinette on the grounds of the Petit Trianon at Versailles, by architect Richard Mique (see Michon’s engraving after a painting by Pierre Courvoisier, illustrated in D. Ledoux-Lebard, Versailles, Le Petit Trianon, Les Editions de l’Amateur, Paris, 1989, p. 31).

    Identical, or even comparable clocks, are extremely rare. A clock signed Furet, though it differs in many respects, is based on a similar composition. It is part of the Royal Spanish Collections (illustrated in J. Ramon Colon de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 1987, p. 90, catalogue n° 73). Two other known clocks are identical to the present clock: the first, with movement signed Festeau à Paris, is pictured in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Paris, 1997, p. 292, fig. B; the second, with a gilt bronze dome, is signed by the clockmaker Gavelle; it is in the British Royal Collection (see C. Jagger, Royal Clocks, The British Monarchy and its Timekeepers 1300-1900, London, 1983, p. 150).

    Rare Matte and Burnished Gilt Bronze Mantle Clock in the form of a Medici Vase

    Pendule262-04_HD_WEB

    Paris, Empire period, circa 1805

    Height46

    The two superimposed ring dials, known as “cercles tournants”, are made up of white enamel cartouches; they indicate the Roman numeral hours and Arabic five-minute intervals. The movement is housed in a magnificent finely chased gilt bronze case in the form of a Medici vase. The plain belly of the vase is adorned with a garland of roses that is suspended from the mouths of two magnificently chased horses, whose heads form the handles. The lower portion of the vase is adorned with stylized leaves and flowers; the rounded lip is decorated with a frieze of alternating leaves and acorns set against a matted ground.  The vase rests on a spreading foot that is embellished with gadrooning and engine turning. Beneath the dials, a star set on an engine turned band indicates the hours on the lower ring dial. The clock is surmounted by a putto lying on clouds and holding an arrow whose tip indicates the minutes on the upper ring dial. The clock stands on a tall rectangular plinth whose façade is adorned with the figure of an Egyptian wearing a Nemes headdress who is pouring liquid from amphoras; on the sides there are amphoras with double curved handles, decorated with gadrooning. The molded quadrangular base is decorated with a frieze of alternating stylized palmettes and stems.

    Around the middle of the 18th century, motifs inspired by antiquity entered the decorative vocabulary of the French decorative arts, at the same time as a new type of clock was emerging. In these clocks, known as “cercles tournants” clocks, the usual round dials were replaced by revolving ring dials with enamel cartouches. This new style led bronziers to create novel compositions that were often housed in vases of various types, especially baluster and Medici vases. Several decades later, during the Consulate and the Empire periods, bronze casters continued to produce clocks of this type, whose design and composition they mastered perfectly. The present clock, made within this particular context, may be considered one of the most unusual and successful of those models. We should note that a pair of candlesticks with horse-head handles was formerly in the Flensburg collection (sold Bruun Rasmussen, October 29-31, 1997, lot 70). An identical clock whose movement was signed “Leroy Horloger de Madame”, was offered on the international art market in July 2001; it is now in a private collection.