With rays bursting forth from a portrait medallion of Louis XIV, this spectacular clock is based on an 18th century model dedicated to the memory of the Sun King. Created in 1754, the original was a collaboration between fondeur Edmé-Jean Gallien, gilder Louis-Francois Gobert and clockmaker Jean Martinot and was initially placed in Louis XV’s bedroom at the Château de Fontainebleau. It was later moved to the Château de Compiègne and then to the Château de Versailles, where it is now on view in the cabinet du Conseil (VMB 8706). The clock face emerges from an elaborate foliate support surmounted by a winged putto emblematic of fame and anchored by two additional putti at the base: the first emblematic of the génie of Mars holding the King’s portrait, the second of France leaning forward in admiration.
The model was widely admired in the 19th century, and a version slightly larger than the present clock by Charles Crozatier and Henri Picard is displayed in the grand salon of the Napoleon III apartments at the Louvre, having formerly been on view at Versailles, the Palais des Tuileries and the Préfecture at Strasbourg (OA 5132). The model appears with some frequency at auction including twice in 2005: Christie’s, New York, 20 April 2005, lot 311 (price realized: $48,000) and Property from the Estate of Lillian Rojtman Berkman, Sotheby’s, New York, 28 January 2005, lot 896 (price realized: $38,400).