This barometer and matching thermometer are after the celebrated model supplied by the marchand-mercier Simon-Philippe Poirier to Madame du Barry on 20 December 1769. Described as 'Un Baromètre & Thermomètre, de Passement, montés trés richement en bronze dorés d'or moulu et ornés de trois plaques de porcelaine de france à Enfants en miniature cy 1056l', this pattern was made with both two and three plaques. Interestingly, the lower plaque of the latter type commemorates the Transit of the Planet Venus, which was seen in Paris on 3 June 1769.
A virtually identical pair with differing porcelain mounts, from The Alexander Collection, was sold, Christie's, New York, 30 April 1999, lot 178, and another anonymously, Christie's, New York, 21 October 2004, lot 1182.
The Farquhar family were bankers and collectors in England in the 19th century. Celebrated members of the family included James Farquhar, Christie's banker, who bought Fonthill Abbey, Wiltshire, in its entirety from William Beckford in 1822, prior to the sale of its contents.
Later, Alfred Farquhar founded the private bank Harris Farquhar, which was eventually to merge with Lloyd's, at the beginning of the 19th Century. In 1870 Napoleon III, who stayed with Farquhar in 1852, presented him with a fine collection of 18th and 19th Century furniture and objects in gratitude for the hospitality that Farquhar had shown him whilst he was in exile.