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A CONSULAT LARGE ORMOLU QUARTER-STRIKING AND AUTOMATON PEDESTAL CLOCK WITH ANNUAL CALENDAR AND EQUATION OF TIME, ON AN ORMOLU AND PORCELAIN-MOUNTED MAHOGANY PEDESTAL INCORPORATING AN ORGAN
THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR (LOT 575)
A CONSULAT LARGE ORMOLU QUARTER-STRIKING AND AUTOMATON PEDESTAL CLOCK WITH ANNUAL CALENDAR AND EQUATION OF TIME, ON AN ORMOLU AND PORCELAIN-MOUNTED MAHOGANY PEDESTAL INCORPORATING AN ORGAN

THE CLOCK DIAL SIGNED BY J.A. CAVE, CIRCA 1800, THE PEDESTAL ATTRIBUTED TO JACOB FRERES

Details
A CONSULAT LARGE ORMOLU QUARTER-STRIKING AND AUTOMATON PEDESTAL CLOCK WITH ANNUAL CALENDAR AND EQUATION OF TIME, ON AN ORMOLU AND PORCELAIN-MOUNTED MAHOGANY PEDESTAL INCORPORATING AN ORGAN THE CLOCK DIAL SIGNED BY J.A. CAVE, CIRCA 1800, THE PEDESTAL ATTRIBUTED TO JACOB FRERES CASE: of massive proportions, surmounted by a group after the Antique representing the River Nile with amorini and crocodiles, with reeded columns to front, rear and angles, the cornice with dolphin, mask and Nereid mounts, the front with classical figures within niches, the side panels with mounts formed of winged horses, trumpet-blowing amorini and swans, the front and sides of the plinth with classical relief mounts, door to rear, the front modeled with a fountain, with automaton glass simulating water issuing from a mask, the case resting on the backs of six turtles with automaton heads PEDESTAL: on an ormolu-mounted mahogany pedestal with inset mottled granito violetto top above a frieze with Apollo in his chariot, the front centered by an oval enameled plaque of Napoleon as Consul, the canted angles with Egyptian female caryatid uprights, the sides with classical lyre lozenge medallions backed with cobalt blue enameled panels on a further stepped plinth base with flattened bun feet, this lower plinth probably of a slightly later date DIAL: within ormolu bezel, white enamel with gilt-heightening and jeweled decoration in the manner of Coteau, outer band with individual cartouches painted with representations of the zodiac, further annual calendar ring, signed Inv.t fec.t J. A. Cave, with pieced ormolu hour and minute hands and blued steel solar equation hand applied with a sunburst, blued steel date pointer MOVEMENTS: concealed winding holes behind the front mounts for the clock (indirect wind) and automaton movements, the former with rectangular plates joined by five back-pinned pillars, twin barrels with Graham-type dead beat escapement, the high quality gridiron pendulum with knife-edge suspension and suspended from a cradle to the rear, fine calibration to crutch piece, with remontoire to back plate, quarter-striking on three nested bells with a single moving hammer; the automaton movement positioned to the side and with independent barrel, tripped from the clock movement and with gearing to the automaton water and to the turtles, causing their heads to move in and out, with manual automaton stop/start levers to the side, the back plate with restoration inscription Réparee entierement par E Frennaulet Paris 1893 rue des. terminer par Balthazar fils Mechanitien; the movement with late 19th Century restorations ORGAN: the plinth housing an organ with 17¼ in. long wooden barrel and twenty-three pipes (one lacking), powered by twin chain fusees; lacking connection to clock 80 in. (203 cm.) high, 32 in. (81.25 cm.) wide, 22½ in. (57 cm.) deep, overall (2)
Provenance
Reputedly a gift of the citizens of Lyon to Napoleon.
Anonymous sale; Kaliski Auction Galleries, 1958 [according to French and Company invoice. This probably refers to Kaliski and Gabay, University Place, New York].
With French and Company, New York, by whom acquired from the above.
Acquired from Hammer Galleries, New York in the early 1960s by the late husband of the present owner.
Sale Room Notice
Please note the pedestal is enamel-mounted, and not porcelain-mounted as stated in the catalogue.

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Lot Essay

This magnificent clock was reputedly a gift of the citizens of Lyon to Napoleon in honour of his famous Egyptian campaign of 1798-1799.

Egypt is celebrated through the superb bronze surmounting the clock case, which depicts a River God emblematic of the Nile with a horn of plenty, reclining on a sphinx and surrounded by putti playing with crocodiles. This is based on the famous ancient Roman marble of the Nile, first recorded in 1523 and installed in 1770 in the Museo Pio-Clementino. It was much admired by Napoleon, and like the companion figure of the Tiber, it was seized by France and installed in Paris to great acclaim in 1803. The exotic imagery of Egypt is further reflected in the tortoise-form feet to the clock case, whose heads are articulated, and in the elegant tapering Egyptian female herms of the base.

The enamel portrait of Napoleon centring the pedestal depicts him in the gold-embroidered scarlet uniform of the First Consul, to which he was appointed in 1800, and is loosely based on the famous portraits of him at this time by Appiani and Ingres. Napoleon is crowned by winged angels, while below is the eagle, a symbol indelibly linked with him in his period as Emperor. The depiction of Apollo in the beautifully cast relief plaque above also bears a resemblance to Napoleon, a reminder of the iconography of another autocratic ruler of France, Louis XIV, the Sun King.

The exceptional quality of the gilt-bronzes and cabinet-work of the pedestal leads one to conclude that it was the work of Jacob Frères, the sons of the famous menuisier Georges Jacob, who took over their father's workshop in 1796 and remained Napoleon's favorite cabinet-makers throughout the Consulat and Empire periods. Its elegant à l'antique style reflects the influence of the court architects Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine, whose Receuil de Décorations Intérieures (first issued in 1801) was enormously influential and which contains designs for a number of pieces known to have been executed by Jacob Frères. A cabinet illustrated on plate 40, for instance (executed for 'Monsieur du R' in Paris), features closely related Egyptian herm uprights.

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