Derek Roberts, Continental and American Skeleton Clocks, Schiffer, 1989, p.175, figs,172a,b,c; Tardy, French Clocks the World Over, Part II, Paris, 1981, p.241; Peter Heuer & Klaus Maurice, Die Europaische Pendeluhren, Callwey, 1988, p.71, fig.123.
Hubert Sarton (1748-1828) was Belgium's greatest clockmaker and is renowned for his fine multi-dial skeleton clocks. Born in Liège, he was apprenticed to his uncle, Dieudonne Sarton, in 1762 and by 1768 was working at Pierre Leroy's workshop in Paris. In 1772 Sarton was appointed Court Mechanic to Duke Charles Alexander, Prince of Lorraine. He was commissioned to make several clocks for the Duke, including a superb example with moving dial (sold Christie's London, The Albert Odmark Collection of Important Clocks and Watches, 11 March 2005, lot 375). Sarton also enjoyed the patronage of the Prince Archbishop François Charles Alexander de Velbrock, whose Court contacts no doubt helped Sarton a good deal and who asked him to start a Science Society (the 'Societe d'Emulation'). By 1783 he had been appointed City Counseller and Treasurer. The subsequent invasion of Belgium by the French Revolutionary armies in 1794 undoubtedly led to a down-turn in Sarton's business but this must have improved in the early 1800s as a number of clocks date from this period.
The earliest type of 'pillar' skeleton clocks produced by Sarton have a single enamel dial, sometimes with skeletonised centre. The four dial clocks appear after 1812. Initially these used the circular movement plates that can be found on on Sarton's single dial clocks, supported by struts above the pillars. The present clock is clearly one one of these early models. Subsequently the design evolved to employ triangular plates. See Roberts, op.cit, pp.171-179.
A four-dial skeleton clock of very closely related design, simply signed à Paris but almost certainly by Sarton, was sold Christie's London, Important Clocks and Watches, 12 July 1995, lot 326. Interestingly, another similar but signed Lepaute, is illustrated in Heuer/Maurice (p.71).