• 500 Years: Decorative Arts Eur auction at Christies

    Sale 7784

    500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe

    10 December 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 804



    Price Realised  


    CASE: the porcelain, polychrome and gilt-painted with floral designs against trellis reserves, the neck with vignette of a flowering basket, garlanded caryatid monopodiae terminating in hoof feet with bell hung chains between, the canted rounded base with beaded mounts and raised on toupie feet, the porcelain incised 'F. B' to the underside of the base; mounts regilt DIAL: white enamel and signed 'Guillaume/Meuron', engraved gilt alarm disc to the centre, pierced and engraved ormolu hands MOVEMENT: single going barrel and verge escapement, twice-six pull repeat for quarters and hours on two bells, the back plate punch numbered '7648'; engraved sunburst pendulum
    16½ in. (42 cm.) high; 8 in. (20 cm.) wide; 5¾ in (14.5 cm.) deep

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    Guillame Meuron is recorded as working in Paris in the late 18th Century. He also signed his name Guglielmo and made alarm watches for the great horologist Abraham-Louis Breguet.
    The present clocks (lots 803 and 804) are such near pair that they were quite likely made for the same household, perhaps with the striking clock intended for the drawing room and the timepiece for the boudoir. The alarm work on the timepiece clock is an unusual feature for French mantel clocks and this may have been specially ordered, with its future position in the house in mind. Its repeat system is also unusual: it strikes one to six blows for one to six o'clock and then does the same from seven to twelve o'clock.
    Examples of other painted porcelain vase clocks of the same model with identical mounts are:
    1. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Jones Collection). Illustrated, Tardy, French Clocks The World Over Part II, Paris, 1981, p. 78. It differs from other examples in having a paste-set bezel. The maker is apparently unrecorded.
    2. A clock by François-Louis Godon sold Christie's, London, 22 June 1989, lot 35. (ill. in P. Kjellberg, L'Encyclopedie de La Pendule Française, Paris, 1997, p. 216, fig. B). This clock has a similar bird-decorated vignette to the present striking example. François Godon is recorded as Clockmaker to the Court of Spain circa 1790.
    3. A clock signed 'Dupont Late Emery'. Formerly in the collection of J. Pierpont Morgan and most recently sold, Koller Zurich, 18-21 September 2006, lot 1169 (CHF 228,000). Charles Dupont took over Josiah Emery's business in 1795 with Louis Recordon, Breguet's London agent. It is recorded to have a Swiss striking movement.

    Further related examples of painted porcelain vase clocks are:
    1. A clock by Joseph Gay, Turin, with a matching pair of candelabra. Although the base and hoof feet are similar to the present clocks, the vase shape and decoration and the caryatid mounts are slightly different. Interestingly this example, as with the present timepiece, also has alarm work. It is illustrated, A. González-Palacios, Il Tempio del Gusto, Roma e il Regno delle due Sicilie, Milan, 1986, vol. II, P. 397, fig. 845. Joseph Gay was the Royal Horologist in Turin circa 1785.
    2. A clock with English dial and movement by Benjamin Vulliamy, offered at Christie's, New York, 23 October 1998, lot 25. This model has a similar vase shape and base but rams' head side mounts. Benjamin Louis Vulliamy was the Royal clockmaker to George III and George IV.
    It is interesting that these examples have movements and dials by different makers of different nationalities but their cases are so alike. It therefore seems quite likely that the cases were produced by one Paris factory and then exported without movements.

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    Pre-Lot Text