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A LOUIS XVI ORMOLU STRIKING AND ASTRONOMICAL VASE CLOCK WITH REVOLVING CHAPTER RINGS ('PENDULE A CERCLES TOURNANTS')
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A LOUIS XVI ORMOLU STRIKING AND ASTRONOMICAL VASE CLOCK WITH REVOLVING CHAPTER RINGS ('PENDULE A CERCLES TOURNANTS')

THE CLOCKMAKER CLAUDE MATHIEU, PARIS, THE ENAMELLER JOSEPH COTEAU, PARIS. THE DIAL DATED 1774

Details
A LOUIS XVI ORMOLU STRIKING AND ASTRONOMICAL VASE CLOCK WITH REVOLVING CHAPTER RINGS ('PENDULE A CERCLES TOURNANTS')
THE CLOCKMAKER CLAUDE MATHIEU, PARIS, THE ENAMELLER JOSEPH COTEAU, PARIS. THE DIAL DATED 1774
CASE: neo-classical urn cast with fruit and foliage swags, revolving hour and minute bands with individual enamel chapters, the minutes shown via paste-set star and hours via a salamander tail, the plinth base with ribbon-tied swags and rams' head side mounts, later medallion of Henri IV to rear, later white marble plinth, ebonised stand CALENDAR DIAL: white enamel disc signed 'Mathieu fecit' below rolling moon phase, outer concentric rings for the days of week and months of year with their number of days, date aperture with silvered ring, outer zodiac ring painted in gilt-framed roundels interrupted by green enamel jewelling, signed on reverse 'Coteau/..i le 3 1774', ormolu hands MOVEMENT: back-to-back twin barrels with anchor escapement and countwheel strike on bell to base, indirect bevel gearing to chapter bands above and trip lever to further single barrel movement for calendar advance; pendulum
22 in. (56 cm.) high, over marble plinth; 10¾ in. (25 cm.) wide; 8½ in. (21.5 cm.) deep
Provenance
The Vitale Collection of Highly Important European Clocks, Christie's New York, 30 October 1996, lot 86.
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Lot Essay

An almost identical clock to this (signed 'Mathieu') was sold the Property of the late George Field, esq, Christie's London, 12 June 1893, lot 80 (199 guineas, 10 shillings to Wertheimer). That clock passed into the Greenberg collection in New York and is illustrated in W. Edey, French Clocks, London, 1967, p. 67. Another was sold from the collection of Charles de Bestegui, Château du Groussay, Sotheby's House sale, 3 June 1999, lot 868 (FF 490,500). A further example (with solid enamel chapter rings) is illustrated in J.D. Augarde, Les Ouvriers du Temps, Geneva, 1996, p. 205. That clock was delivered for the furnishings of the Michel Palace built by Emperor Paul I at St Petersburg in 1798. Interestingly, it is displayed as an ensemble on a large marble plinth flanked by bronze figures allegorising Study and Geography. Each of these clocks has a superb enamel zodiac dial by Coteau and is signed 'Mathieu' (only the present clock uses 'fecit'); each has a distinctive silvered date ring showing through a small aperture. A further clock with a replaced plain dial by Droz was sold Le Pavillon Chougny, Christie's London, 9 December 2004, lot 374.
Claude Mathieu (1722-d. aft.1812) was received as master in July 1754 by decree exempting him from lack of apprenticeship. In 1793 he was a member of the jury responsible for deciding matters relating to the new time system. He used clock cases by P. Delacroix and M. Poisson.
Joseph Coteau (1740-1812) was arguably the finest enameller of his day. W. Edey wrote of him: '[He] has remained unequalled... although the best of his successors were able to reach his level of virtuosity, they never achieved his perfect proportions nor his lush sweetness, which was an attribute of the ancien régime alone' (French Clocks in North American Collections, The Frick Collection, 1982, p. 22). Born in Geneva he became maître-peintre-émailleur at the Académie de Saint-Luc in Geneva in 1766. By 1772 he was installed in rue Poupée, Paris. A skilled miniaturist, he also discovered a new method for fixing raised gold on porcelain and worked closely with the Sèvres factory in developing their 'jewelled' porcelain. For Coteau see also lot 72.

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