• Lot 59

    BREGUET. AN EXCEPTIONAL, UNIQUE AND HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT SILVER 8-DAY HUMP-BACK MONTRE DE CARROSSE WITH HALF-QUARTER REPEATING, ALARM, QUADRUPLE DIGITAL CALENDAR, AGE AND PHASES OF THE MOON, TRAVELLING CASE AND ORIGINAL KEY, MADE FOR THE QUEEN OF NAPLES

    SIGNED BREGUET, NO. 2655, MADE FOR THE QUEEN OF NAPLES AND SOLD TO HER IN 1812

    Price Realised  

    BREGUET. AN EXCEPTIONAL, UNIQUE AND HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT SILVER 8-DAY HUMP-BACK MONTRE DE CARROSSE WITH HALF-QUARTER REPEATING, ALARM, QUADRUPLE DIGITAL CALENDAR, AGE AND PHASES OF THE MOON, TRAVELLING CASE AND ORIGINAL KEY, MADE FOR THE QUEEN OF NAPLES
    SIGNED BREGUET, NO. 2655, MADE FOR THE QUEEN OF NAPLES AND SOLD TO HER IN 1812
    The 4-pillar circular gilt brass movement with off-set winding to the going barrel and with ratchet set-up and bridged open spring barrels for the repeating and alarm mounted on the back plate, the plate also cut to reveal a transitional form of Breguet's straight-line lever escapement, plain three-arm balance with parachute suspension and regulator to the blued steel spiral balance spring with terminal curve, the repeating and alarm sounded by three hammers on three rounded rectangular-sectioned steel gongs, Breguet's "rouleaux de quantième" calendar work driven from the motion work and mounted below on the dial plate, the silver dial with roman numerals and dot minute markers, blued steel Breguet moon hands, engine turned centre with subsidiary dials for alarm setting, and an aperture for phases and age of the moon, signed Breguet et Fils on an applied gold oval cartouche, set within a finely engine turned gilt dial mask with off-set winding hole and four apertures indicating day, date, month and year, numbered below on an applied gold cartouche No. 2655, the arched case with 7-knuckle hinged doors, the front bevel glazed, the back Paris hallmarked for medium sized, first standard silver, and stamped with the case makers initials PBT for Pierre-Benjamin Tavernier 1809-1819, quadruple stranded silver linked carrying chains with a further double stranded chain on a slider for the silver double-ended Breguet ratchet key, the pull wound alarm chain and alarm hand setting to the right side, and a sliding shutter to the left side for time hand setting, with pull repeat chain underneath, the whole raised on four sconce feet, with contemporary silk lined brown leather covered travelling case; case stamped PBT for Pierre-Benjamin Tavernier, dial signed Breguet et Fils and numbered 2655
    15.8 cm. high, 13 cm. wide and 4.8 cm. deep


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    With Montres Breguet Certificate No. 4316 dated 19 March 2009 confirming the sale of the present "Pendulette de Voyage dite Montre de Carosse" on 18 March 1812 to the Queen of Naples for the amount of 4,000 Francs. According to the Archives of Montres Breguet, it was returned to their workshops in 1890 for a "révision complète". Undoubtedly, the year cylinder of the calendar work was changed at this time to the one present today on the clock. It is engraved with the years 1890 - 1901, and interestingly those for 1892 and 1896 are marked in red to indicate that they were leap years. Century years are only leap years if divisible by 400, so the year marker for 1900 is not coloured red. As a further aide memoire regarding the calendar, the date cylinder shows 00 at the end of the month rather than 31. This indication reminds the owner to hand-set the date to 1 in May, July, October and December, as the previous months only contain 30-days.

    Abraham Louis Breguet is said to have been the inventor of the carriage clock. Typically, these clocks usually took the form of a gilt-metal framed case, glazed on all sides, and with a solid carrying handle on top. It is worth noting that Breguet's very first carriage clock, to this design, No. 178, also with "calendre à rouleaux", was sold to Napoleon Bonaparte on 24th April 1798.

    However, for his very highest quality carriage clocks, Breguet encased them in silver 'hump-back' cases with multi-stranded silver chain carrying handles. These clocks dating to between 1812 and about 1828 were made to exacting standards and included all the complications a traveller required. They are rightly considered to be some of Breguet's finest timepieces, costing some eight times more than a silver Souscription watch of the period.

    Much appreciated in England throughout the 19th century, the elegant style and design of these silver cased hump-back clocks was continued firstly by James Fergusson Cole (possibly a pupil of Breguet), then by the London firms of Jump, Charles Frodsham and Nicole Nielsen, all producing very limited numbers of exquisite multi-complicated travelling timepieces. In all instances these clocks are more akin to fine watch work than clock work, and indeed Breguet's own description of the timepieces as "Montre de Carosse" bears sentiment to this.

    No. 2655 is the earliest recorded extant "Montre de Carosse", and research to date shows just six other known "3rd series" pieces of related design and complexity, each also with subsidiary seconds indication, making no. 2655 unique in this respect.

    No. 2793 - Signed Breguet et Fils. Sold to the Grande Duchesse de Toscane, 26th Aug 1813, for 4,000 Francs. This clock was in the celebrated Breguet collection of Sir David Salomons.

    No. 2806 - Signed Breguet et Fils. Sold to the Prince Regent d'Angleterre, Aug 1814, for 4,600 Francs. This clock remains the private property of Her Majesty Elizabeth II of The United Kingdom and the Dominions of The British Commonwealth, having formally been the property of her mother Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

    No. 2940 - Signed Breguet et Fils. Sold to the Comte de Portales, Seigneur de Gorgier, 10th Feb 1818, for 4,800 Francs. This clock was presumably bought back by the House of Breguet, as it was then sold to Jean Dollfus (another celebrated Breguet collector) on 25 Feb 1928. Through family decent it was then sold Christie's London, 24th November 1993, lot 39. The Breguet certificate accompanying the clock at the time stated that it originally had a barometer that was replaced by Breguet in 1931 with an alarm.

    No. 3050 - Signed Breguet et Fils. Twin barrel Marine chronometer, sold Lord Spencer 13th July 1821 for 2,400 Francs. Then Altman collection, Sotheby's London Oct 1987, lot 20.

    No. 3629 - Signed Breguet et Fils. Sold to Colonel Cooke, 7 Oct 1822, for 4,800 Francs. Later the clock was in the magnificent horological collections of S.E. Prestige Esq. Now in the British Museum collections, London, privately purchased in 1969. Illustrated in Breguet - Watchmakers since 1775 by Emmanuel Breguet, pp. 266-7.

    No. 3749 - Signed Breguet et Fils. With the addition of Equation of Time indication. Sold to Sir Charles Cockerill, 6 Aug 1828, for 5,750 Francs. It was subsequently sold Sotheby's, London, 28 Oct 1963, lot 94.

    The timeless design of these early hump-back clocks has remained inspirational to the house of Breguet, who have very occasionally made further similar pieces, with varying complications, for prestigious and loyal clients through to the present day. Notable amongst such clocks is No. 759 which was sold to Ettore Bugatti, the famous Italian car constructor, in 1931. This clock, but with the addition of Grande and Petite striking, was modelled on No. 2940.

    We are indebted to Charles Frodsham & Co. Ltd., London, and to Mr. Emmanuel Breguet for their valuable assistance in the research and cataloguing of this timepiece.

    Provenance

    Joachim Murat and Caroline Bonaparte, King and Queen of Naples
    The present timepiece was made for Caroline Bonaparte, Queen of Naples, and sold to her on 18 March 1812. Between 1808 and 1814, Caroline Bonaparte was one of Breguet's most demanding and important clients and had the privilege of receiving the very best pieces produced. When Caroline died in Florence in 1839, the clock was given to her son Lucien Murat, 3rd Prince Murat, who lived in the United States between 1825 and 1848, although it is very unlikely that the clock was transferred to the United States between 1839 and 1848. After Lucien, the clock passed on to Joachim Murat, 4th Prince Murat (1834-1901), then to his son Joachim Murat, 5th Prince Murat (1856-1932) whose wife Marie-Cécile Ney d'Elchingen then gave it to one of her grandsons, as the enclosed extract of her last will shows.

    It is now offered at auction by one of the descendants of the latter.

    The Murat family
    The Murat family enters into the History of France with Joachim Murat (1767-1815), who was without doubt one of the greatest French cavalry commanders of all times. During the battle of Eylau in 1807, he was in command of one of the most famous cavalry charges in history, leading 12'000 men into battle. He married Caroline Bonaparte, sister of Napoleon in 1800. Commander of the cavalry of the Empire, Grand Admiral, Grand Duke of Berg, he was pronounced King of Naples in 1808. During an attempt to regain his Kingdom in 1815, he was arrested and shot.

    Until the Second French Empire, the Murat family had been in exile. Lucien, the second son of Joachim Murat, lived in the United States for a long time. Over the years, members of the Murat family married into other families of the Empire and also with distinguished international families. Most notably Joachim Murat, 4th Prince Murat married one of the granddaughters of Marshal Berthier, Joachim Murat, 5th Prince Murat the great-granddaughter of Marshal Ney and Achille Murat, 2nd Prince Murat the great-grandniece of George Washington.

    The Murat descendants have had distinguished careers in many aspects of life. Military; Joachim Murat, 1834-1901, was general of the Second Empire, officer of the Emperor Napoleon III, commander of the Légion d'Honneur, decorated with the military medal and many other foreign orders, and was in charge of receiving the coffin of the Imperial prince in England. Political; many were Deputy of Lot, native region of Murat and cultural; Napoleon Murat was a famous writer and film producer.

    Throughout the 20th century, the Murat family has been socially very active, particularly with the famous Parisian dinners that the Princess Marie-Cécile Murat (great-granddaughter of Marshal Ney) hosted in the Hôtel Particulier on rue de Monceau.

    Caroline Murat Bonaparte (1782-1839)
    Caroline Bonaparte was born in Corsica and was the younger sister of Napoleon I of France. In 1793, during the French Revolution, she moved to France with her family. In Paris she fell in love with Joachim Murat, one of her brother's generals. Napoleon opposed the match but his wife Josephine convinced him to allow it and they married in 1800. They had four children, Achille(1801-1847), Letizia (1802-1859), Lucien (1803-1878) and Louise (1805-1889). Caroline became Grand Duchess of Berg and Cleves in 1806 and Queen consort of Naples in 1808 when her husband was named King of Naples by his brother-in-law.

    Caroline Murat Bonaparte is regarded as Napoleon's most ambitious sister and superior in talents to all her relatives, thus could not fail to win the esteem of her brother. In 1808 when Napoleon extended his power into southern Italy and placed Caroline and Joachim Murat on its throne, Caroline was ruling as regent during her husband's absences. She is known to have shown great ability and interest in the excavations at Pompeii, and raised the social style of court life in Naples, presiding over the brilliant palaces of Portici "the Neapolitan Fontainbleau" and Caserta.

    Caroline Murat Bonaparte had designs on her own children becoming Napoleon's heirs, but her plans were thwarted after the Emperor divorced Josephine and his second wife gave birth to Napoleon II.

    Caroline's attachment to Joachim Murat has been distinguished alike for warmth and fidelity. Her advice always directed him for the best; and had it been uniformly followed, he might have remained on his throne. Caroline is seen as having influenced him to strive for a united Kingdom of Italy independent of Napoleon's French Empire but this attempt failed and as Napoleon was losing his throne she and her husband fled to Corsica. Returning to Italy in 1815, Joachim Murat made a final attempt to reclaim his throne and was captured and executed at Calabria. Caroline escaped with her children to Austria and died 24 years later in exile in Florence.


    Pre-Lot Text

    Property of a direct descendant of Joachim Murat and Caroline Bonaparte, King and Queen of Naples


    Literature

    George Daniels, The Art of Breguet, Sotheby Parke Bernet, London 1975; pp. 53, fig 49; pp.78-80; pp. 226-227, pl. 245a-b; 251-253, pl. 291a-d; 256-257, pl. 295a-c.
    Sir David Salomons, Breguet (1747 - 1823), Private printing, London, 1923; pp 93-94 & illustrated 306-308.
    Charles Allix, Carriage Clocks, Their History and Development, Antique Collectors Club, Woodbridge, 1974; pp. 41-54, pl. II/10, 11, 14-16.
    Derek Roberts, Carriage and Other Travelling Clocks, Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, 1993; pp. 27-28; pp. 30-32, fig.2-5a-c.
    Cederic Jagger, Royal Clocks, the British Monarchy and its Timekeepers 1300-1900, Robert Hale, London, 1983; pp. 180.
    Giuseppe Brusa, L'arte dell' Orologeria in Europa, Bramante Editrice, 1978; pl. 752-753.
    Tardy, La Pendule Française, 2ème Partie, Paris; pp. 184.
    Emmanuel Breguet, Breguet - Watchmakers since 1775; pp. 146, 152, 188-9, 224-5, 228, 265-7, 338, 360.