This superb clock displays the virtuosity and innovative decoration of Joseph Coteau (1740-1812), possibly the most famous enameller of his day, who supplied dials for the greatest clockmakers of France. Born in Geneva, he became maître-peintre-émailleur at the Académie de Saint-Luc in Geneva in 1766. By 1772 he was installed in Rue Poupée, Paris. Beyond his enamel dials, Coteau was a skilled miniaturist, discovering a new method for gilt-decorated enamels "d'appliquer solidement l'or marié avec les émaux de toutes couleurs sur la porcelaine", such as is seen on the enamels on this clock which cleverly mimic porcelain plaques. Coteau worked closely with the Sèvres factory in developing their 'jewelled' porcelain, and his name first appears in the kiln records at Sèvres in 1780.
The clockmaker Dieudonné Kinable (d. circa 1815) was established at Palais Royal no. 131 and was active at the end of the eighteenth century. Specializing in clocks incorporating polychrome enamel or porcelain, particularly lyre-form clocks, Kinable was the largest buyer of porcelain lyre-form clock cases from the Sèvres factory, buying thirteen between 1795 and 1807. He often collaborated with Coteau and the enameller Dubuisson.
Few surviving clocks of this period combine Coteau's jewelled enamel plaques into highly sculptural ormolu cases of this quality. More typically, enamel plaques of this type are found on skeleton clocks or clocks with simpler forms and without figural representations, such as a clock also by Kinable and enamelled by Coteau, in the collection of the Newark museum (illustrated in W. Edey, French Clocks in North American Collections, New York, 1982, p. 91-92, pl. 87). A skeleton clock with similar quality enamelling by Coteau and movement by Laurent, was sold Sotheby's Monaco, 19 June 1992, lot 661, and illustrated in J.D. Augarde, Les Ouvriers du Temps, Geneva, 1996, p. 340.