On 8 October 1768, the marchand-mercier Simon-Philippe Poirier delivered a clock of exactly this model to Madame du Barry. Supplied at a cost of 912 livres, it was described as:
'Une pendule à vase et serpent, en bronze doré d'or moulu, le cadre tournant, le piédestal garni de trois morceaux de porcelaine de France, fond bleu avec des enfants en miniature, le dard du serpent fait en marcassite'.
A clock by the same bronzier, now in the Musée du Louvre (OA 8937) was purchased by the comte d'Orsay between 1770 and 1774 (C. Baulez, 'La Rue de Varenne', Exhibition Catalogue, Musée Rodin, 1981, p.73, no.269). Interestingly, the Louvre clock also has hardstone panels instead of Sèvres porcelain, but these are overpainted with decorative scenes, and the same decoration may have been intended for the Kinnaird clock. Another clock of this model, also set with Sèvres plaques, is illustrated in S. Eriksen, op. cit., pl.198, p.348. In his 1771 portrait of the Abbé Nicolas Chanlatte, Guillaume Voirot depicts a clock of this model, but with angular handles, signed Le Pautre horloger du Roi (Ibid., pl. 466, p. 401, sold Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 12 June 1936, lot 115 (illustrated)).
The invention and production of this model can thus be convincingly dated to around 1770, but whilst Poirier was certainly responsible for ordering clocks of this model from 1768, the bronzier to whom he turned for its execution is unrecorded.
It is interesting to note, therefore, that the horloger Lepaute, writing in 1766 in his Description de plusieurs ouvrages d'horlogerie, cites a pendule verte à cercles tournants, l'heure est indiquée par un serpent. Le modèle est de Cauvet, 1200 livres.
Gilles-Paul Cauvet (1731-88) was an ornemaniste and sculpteur who worked for the comte d'Artois.
THE KINNAIRD PROVENANCE
This clock was almost certainly acquired by either George, 7th Baron Kinnaird or his son Charles, both of whom were keen collectors. In 1777, George (d.1805) married Elizabeth Ransom, daughter of the banker Griffin Ransom of New Palace Yard, Westminster and it was through this marriage that the banking partnership of Ransom, Kinnaird, Morland and Hammersley was formed, later to become Barclay's Bank. This partnership was instrumental in purchasing the Orléans Collection of pictures formed by Louis-Philippe, brother of Louis XVI. His son Charles, 8th Baron Kinnaird (d.1826) succeeded in 1805 and immediately turned to the architect William Atkinson to build a new Gothic house, which he furnished in contemporary Francophile taste.