• 500 Years: Decorative Arts Eur auction at Christies

    Sale 7784

    500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe

    10 December 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 801

    A LOUIS XVI ORMOLU STRIKING FIGURAL MANTEL CLOCK: 'LA PLEUREUSE'

    CHARLES LE ROY, PARIS, THE CASE DESIGN ATTRIBUTED TO FRANÇOIS VION LATE 18TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

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    A LOUIS XVI ORMOLU STRIKING FIGURAL MANTEL CLOCK: 'LA PLEUREUSE'
    CHARLES LE ROY, PARIS, THE CASE DESIGN ATTRIBUTED TO FRANÇOIS VION LATE 18TH CENTURY
    CASE: flanked by a figure of Amour offering a dove to a classical maiden, the moulded panelled plinth divided by torch and quiver trophy, with drapery-swagged apron below, on claw feet DIAL: white enamel, with unusual countwheel advance lever to IX, signed 'CHARLES LE ROY/A PARIS', pierced and engraved ormolu hands MOVEMENT: twin barrels with anchor escapement and countwheel strike on bell, the back plate signed 'Chles. Le Roy Paris'; pendulum
    13½ in. (34 cm.) high; 11 in. (28 cm.) wide; 4¾ in. (12 cm.) deep


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    Queen Marie-Antoinette's clock of this model, popularly known as 'L'amour offrant un oiseau à l'Amitié', 'La Pleureuse' or 'Le Retour de l'amour', was displayed at the Palace of Versailles' Trianon and has a movement by Louis XVI's court clockmaker Robert Robin. Another was listed in 1777 in the Palais du Temple's apartments of the comte d'Artois, later Charles X, and has a movement by Lepaute. The clock design is preserved at the Bibliothèque Doucet, Paris, in an album of watercolours assembled by the fondeur-ciseleur François Vion (maître in 1764). This design featured again in the Livre de desseins no. 31, when it was inscribed with Vion's name and priced at 450 livres (see H. Ottomeyer/P. Pröschel et al., Vergoldete Bronzen,Vol. I, Munich, 1986, p. 247).
    Other clocks of this model are in the château de Versailles and the Bayreuther Schloss (Ibid., fig. 4. 6. 10). An example by Lepaute was sold at Christie's, London, 6 July 2006, lot 206 (£32,400 with premium).
    Conceived in the 1760s antique fashion, promoted by the leading Parisian marchand-merciers, such as Simon-Philippe Poirier, this ormolu clock celebrates lyric poetry's triumph and recalls the Roman poet Catullus' ode on the death of a sparrow. Here love is personified by Venus' dove-bearing son Cupid attending a mourning nymph, who indicates time's passing on the clock dial.

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