Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, maître fondeur in 1748
A rhinoceros was disembarked at Rotterdam in 1741 and subsequently exhibited throughout Europe. It arrived at Versailles in early January 1749 and was sent to Paris on February 3, 1749 where it stayed until April of that year. A rhinoceros mania ensued, the latest fashions in ribbon and hairstyles all being à la rhinoceros. The marchand-merciers seized this opportunity to produce and market three types of clocks as studied by T. H. Clarke in The Rhinoceros from Dürer to Stubbs 1515-1799, 1986.
The first type was inspired directly by the 1515 Dürer engraving of a rhinoceros which has large scales on its feet. An example of this model was sold Christie's London, July 6 1978, lot 37.
The second type, still quite stylised but already more realistic, was influenced by the Meissen model by Kaendler who would have seen the rhinoceros in April 1747. An example of this model is in the Hermitage Museum, Saint-Petersburg.
The third type, the St. Germain model, is not struck with the C Couronné poinçon which would suggest that it postdates the rhinoceros' arrival in Paris in Febraury 1749. This is corroborated by the fact that Béliard became horloger du roi in 1749. The rhinoceros is modelled in a realistic way implying that it was probably drawn from life. Several examples are known of this model. These include one in the Grog-Carven collection, Paris, the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, one formerly in the Patiño collection, sold Paris November 26, 1975, lot 83, Roberto Polo Collection, sold Sotheby's New York 3 November 1989, lot 44 and another formerly with Alexander & Berendt and sold Christie's Monaco 5 December 1992, lot 73.
FRANCOIS BELIARD (d.1795)
Horloger du Roy from 1749 and successor to Martinot as valet de chambre horloger du roi from November 1 1766, he was also appointed Garde en charge de sa communauté in 1771 and a syndic in 1778. He lived in the rue de Hurepoix. His brother, his nephew and his three sons were also clockmakers. He was a cousin by marriage to Julien le Roy.
JEAN-JOSEPH DE SAINT-GERMAIN (1719-1791)
A cabinetmaker as well as a bronze founder and maître-fondeur from 1748, Saint-Germain worked as an ouvrier libre. The inventory drawn up following the death of his wife in December 1747 mentions deux pendules au rhinoceros l'une pour modèle et l'autre finie prisées ensemble la somme de 140 l. This model probably corresponds to the first type of rhinoceros clock mentioned above.
The fleur-de-lys mark appears on several pieces of ormolu from the Louis XV and Louis XVI periods, including a pair of chenets at Versailles, a pair of candelabra delivered to Marie-Antoinette and now in the Wallace Collection (F.J.B. Watson, The Wallace Collection, Furniture, F. 164) and a pair of candelabra sold Sotheby's London, July 8 1983, lot 32.