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    Sale 1987

    Important European Furniture, Works of Art, Ceramics, Carpets, And Glass

    20 May 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 372

    A LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU, SILVERED BRONZE AND PORCELAIN MANTEL CLOCK (A CERCLES TOURNANTS)

    DATED 1768, THE CASE SIGNED 'GAULIER', THE MOVEMENT SIGNED ON THE MOTION WORK BY SAINT-JEAN

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A LATE LOUIS XV ORMOLU, SILVERED BRONZE AND PORCELAIN MANTEL CLOCK (A CERCLES TOURNANTS)
    DATED 1768, THE CASE SIGNED 'GAULIER', THE MOVEMENT SIGNED ON THE MOTION WORK BY SAINT-JEAN
    The urn-form case with acorn finial and foliate handles terminating in bacchic masks, the turning dial with Roman hours and Arabic seconds chapters, the time indicated by a twisted serpent, the urn resting upon a square foliate-cast pedestal with an oval aperture to each side displaying a porcelain plaque decorated with putti, with fluted angles, on a shaped conforming base mounted with paterae, the case stamped 'GAULIER' inside the rear aperture, the movement signed on the motion work 'fait par De Saint Jean 1768', regilt
    15½ (39.5 cm.) high, 7½ in. (19 cm.) deep


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    This design is generally regarded as the first urn-form pendule à cercles tournants'. This model was commissioned by the marchand-mercier Simon Philippe Poirier (c.1720-85). Poirier delivered a clock of this model to Madame du Barry on the 18th November 1768, at a cost of 912 livres. That clock and the following description are quoted in S. Eriksen, Early Neo-Classicism in France, London, 1974, pp. 347-49 and plate 197:

    Une pendule à vase et serpent, en bronze doré d'or moulu, le cadran tournant, le pied d'estal garni de trois morceaux de porcelaine de france, fond bleu, avec des enfants en miniature, le dard de serpent fait en marcassite

    The signature of the maître horloger Jean-Baptiste de Saint Jean (maître in 1760) on the movement with the date 1768, leaves little doubt that the present clock was part of the same commission. His signature also appears on another example, identical save for the standard movement for use in the urn-form case. (In order to turn the chapter rings the movement requires a right angle bend in its gearing. De Saint-Jean accomplished this by replacing the conventional motion work with a bevel gear and long arbor turning the hour and minute wheels within the urn). He left a concealed signature as a record of his achievement, a customary practice among workers supplying the component parts of a clock.

    Bronze clock cases of this period are only occasionaly signed. By the mid-18th century the guilds that produced bronzes were making an effort to stop the widespread plagarism of proprietary models. Prominent in this effort were the bronziers St. Germain, Caffieri, and Osmond whose signatures appear with some frequency. The fondeur Jean-Baptiste Gaulier became maître in 1756. An other example of this urn, also signed Gaulier but with different panels, is illustrated in Kjellberg.