Laurent Rochette, active until the 1770s.
Antoine de Saint-Martin, active until circa 1747.
The kingwood veneer of this clock-case, with its banding in tulipwood, would apparently suggest that this longcase clock was executed at the beginning of the 1730s. However, the use of bois de bout end-cut floral marquetry on the panels of the sides, as well as the elaborate ormolu mounts, especially the dragon and volutes of the feet, points to a slightly later date of circa 1735-40.
The use of 'draco' or dragon ornament in the decorative arts became fashionable between 1730 and 1740. In cabinet-making, it is particularly associated with the bniste Nol Gerard, otherwise known as the Matre aux Pagodes, whilst in gilt-bronze, it appears that the ornameniste and carver Nicolas Pineau was the principal protagonist. The supports of his pair of candelabra (in a private collection, Paris) as well as a longcase clock with the glass panel decorated with two dragons (UACO, inv. no. 10505, cf. 14299, formerly in the collection Lacroix, sold Drouot, Paris, 29 January 1901, lot 130) bear witness to this fact. This taste for dragons, particularly admired at the German Court, lasted well into the middle of the Century, and this is clearly demonstrated by the four candelabra designed for the htel of Prsident Crozat de Tugny by the architect Contan d'Ivry in the 1740s (a pair of which was sold from the collection of M. Hubert de Givenchy, Christie's Monaco, 4 December 1993, lot 32) .
Laurent or Louis Rochette
If Salverte's suggestion that Laurent Rochette was born in Paris in 1723 is correct, it seems impossible that he could have manufactured this longcase clock around 1735 - 1740, at the tender age of 12 - 17. It is, therefore, more probable that the clock was the work of his father, Louis Rochette, who was also a marchand-bniste. Indeed, father and son lived together in the rue du faubourg Saint-Antoine when the latter married the daughter of a sailor in 1753 and qualified as a marchand-bniste. After becoming marchand privilgi du Roi by decree of the Grand Conseil, he sold his business to the cabinet-maker Mathieu Saddon for only 3,700 livres shortly before 1758 and became a marchand de bois.
Antoine de Saint-Martin
Established in the rue de Bussy, then rue des Fosses and finally in 1715 in Saint-Germain, Antoine de Saint-Martin married his second wife, Elisabeth de Montpellier, in 1713. Three clock-makers were his witnesses, namely Paul Alexandre, Gilles Martinot and Jean-Baptiste Masson. After the death of the latter, he bought the stock of his friend for 24,532 livres, amongst which were deux pendules sonnantes de Lieutot le jeune avec une teste pour ornement, which were moved to the place Dauphine. A member of the Jur in 1737 and garde-visiteur between 1737 and 1739, he married his first daughter to the clock-maker Philippe Barat. and counted M. de Choiseul-Meuse, the comte de Parabre, the comtesse de Mailly, M. de Surgre amongst his clients. Saint-Martim died in 1747.
He died in 1747.
The Interpretation of the Ornament
This longcase clock is conceived in the 'picturesque' manner. The cloud-borne fertility deity Flora strews flowers from its wave-scrolled temple pediment; while a Venus shell-badge crowns the open cartouche of its pendulum. Recalling the Virgilian concept that agriculture flourishes with arms and armour laid aside; a triumphal palm and oak-wreathed trophy of weapons is laid in the arched niche formed by the pedestal's volute-trussed feet, where it is guarded by the draco- or dragon-badge of Minerva, goddess of wisdom. A hollow-cornered tablet above the pendulum window displays a poetic laurel-enriched trophy of pastoral instruments bound by a beribboned sacred veil.