Ferdinand Berthoud (1727-1807) was one of the finest clockmakers of the 18th Century. In 1766 he was appointed a member of the Royal Society of London and later a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur.
This enormously successful model came from a design by François Rémond, Paris circa 1785 (illustrated H. Ottomeyer, P. Pröschel et. al., Vergoldete Bronzen Vol. I, Munich, 1986, p. 295, fig, 4. 17. 5). The two figures derive from the models of L'Etude et la Philosophie created for the Sèvres factory by Louis-Simon Boizot in 1780.
A clock of this model, but on a slightly different and slightly larger base and signed Drocourt, Paris, was sold from The Greenberg Collection of Important French Furniture, Sotheby's New York, 21 May 2004, lot 28 ($51,000). Another by Pochon, Paris, also in a similar case and slightly larger, was sold by Partridge, Christie's New York, 17 May 2006, lot 27 ($38,400).
A number of examples of this model exist, although there are some variations, including the readers being in biscuit porcelain and ormolu, some variations to the plinth decoration and also in the overall size. Three clocks of this model are in the British Royal collection and illustrated, C. Jagger, Royal Clocks, The British Monarchy and its Timekeepers, London, 1983, pp.154-155; of these, at least one was acquired by George, Prince of Wales for the East Ante Room at Carlton House, before being moved via Vulliamy to Windsor Castle in 1828 (H. Roberts, For The King's Pleasure, The Furnishing and Decoration of George IV's Apartments at Windsor Castle, London, 2001, fig. 213). Another is at Versailles (H. Ottomeyer, P. Pröschel et al., p. 295, fig. 4.17.6).