Claude-Pierre Ragnet, called Lépine, maître in 1785.
Only four other clocks of this model are known, with variations in the marbles employed and the extent of patinated-bronze elements. The Longleat clock is the only one with an enamelled drum in imitation of Wedgwood, rather than marble. These other clocks comprise:-
-a clock in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu.
-another exhibited from the collection of Andrew Ciechanowiecki in the 'Age of Neo-Classicism', Exhibition Catalogue, London, 1972, no.12. This is now in the Royal Palace, Warsaw, Poland.
-another in a Private Collection in Paris, which was sold anonymously at Sotheby's Monaco, 27 May 1980, lot 656.
-and a final example in the Musée Municipal Massena, Nice.
This model of clock is illustrated in a drawing for a fireplace arrangement attributed to Jean-Démosthène Dugourc, which may well emanate from a 'selling' catalogue of the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre. Now in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, the clock is placed on the mantelpiece, and as its female figures represent vestals tending to the flame of the Temple of Vesta, goddess of the Hearth, the symbolism is entirely appropriate. Interestingly, as Gillian Wilson noted (op. cit.), the two halves of the drawing differ, with alternative objects placed to each side, of which a number have been traced. All of these objects are known to be by, or have been attributed to the bronzier Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843). Examples of the candelabra on the right are in Sweden and the Getty Museum (86.DF.521); the writing figure on the oil lamp, known as La Philosophie and conceived as a pair with L'Etude after the Sèvres models of circa 1780 by Louis-Simon Boizot are, for instance at Gatchina Palace, St Petersburg; although the candelabra on the left are not recorded, a very similar pair is in the Spanish Royal collection, Madrid; the sphinx chenet resembles the pair delivered for the Salon des Nobles de la Reine at Versailles in 1786, whilst the lion chenets are related to a pair delivered by Thomire in the same year for the Salon de la Paix at Versailles.
G. Wilson has suggested (op. cit.) that Jean-Guillaume Moitte may possibly have provided the design for the clock. One of the formeost exponents of the Etruscan and Roman styles in the 1780's and 1790's, Moitte was a skilled draughtsman who drew on his direct knowledge of Rome for inspiration. A drawing by the latter, now in the E.B. Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, California may well have inspired the design of this clock, as it depicts 'a circular altar to the left of which stand a man and woman who together pour a libation from a shallow dish onto a small fire, thus creating billowing smoke. To the right, a kneeling woman offers a garland of flowers to the couple, on either side of her are an overturned basket of flowers and an urn'. Wilson goes on to say that 'whilst the major difference between the drawing and the Getty clock is that the former shows both a man and woman pouring the libation, if one combines the woman's body with the man's arms, the combination would be extremely close to the standing figure'. Interestingly, Moitte exhibited at the Salon of 1785 a work described as Une vestale faisant l'aspersion de l'eau, modele en plâtre de 3 pieds de tout.
A. González-Palacios has suggested that the frieze on the base of the clock was designed after the frieze which runs around the roofline of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina in the Roman Forum ('The Adjectives of History: Furniture and Works of Art 1550-1870', Exhibition Catalogue, London, 1983, pp.444-45). This would certainly have been a building Moitte could have studied when a student in Rome. González-Palacios also suggests that the design for the standing figure at the altar may be after Jacques-Louis David.