This celebrated model was referred to during the 18th Century as: "le temps qui passe entre l'amour et les grâces"
A 1770 design for this 'Pièce de Bureau' Three Graces clock by the fondeur-ciseleur François Vion is conserved in the bibliothèque Doucet (V1 E15 Res. fol.20/1) and is reproduced in H. Ottomeyer, P.Pröschel et al., Vergoldete Bronzen, München, 1986, vol. I, p. 179, ill.3.7.4
This model was initially designed around 1765 and is first recorded as having been delivered by the marchand-mercier Simon-Philippe Poirier on 4 October 1769 to Madame Du Barry at the Château de Versailles. Executed by the ciseleur François Vion, the quality of the chasing and gilding was exceptional and the entirely gilt model cost 902 livres, (the chasing costing 660 livres, the gilding 220 and 222 livres). However, the accounts of 21 May 1774, a few days after the death of Louis XV, further record that Poirier had delivered to 'Madame la comtesse une pendule de bronze représentant les grâces dorée d'or de Germain' in 1769 at a cost of 2400 livres. This clock is now in the Louvre (Dreyfus, No. 377) and is illustrated in P. Verlet, Les Bronzes Dorés Français du XVIIIe siècle, 1987, p.261 (ill. 296), and p.279 (ill. 308-310).
An identical model, the movement executed by the same horloger, is conserved in the Huntington Gallery, San Marino, and is reproduced in Robert R. Wark, French Decorative Art in the Huntington Collection, San Marino, 1979, p. 70, fig. 91, while further models signed by Lepaute and Brille are recorded in numerous public collections (the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, etc...)
Although several different horlogers of this name are recorded in Paris during the 18th Century, it is Louis Montjoye who was responsible for the original movement of the Three Graces clock.
Son of a parisian shoemaker, Louis Montjoye assisted his brother Adrien, another accomplished horloger and married Thérèse Ternizien in July 1747. Established in the rue Dauphine, and subsequently in the rue Saint Julien le Pauvre and then rue Gallande, Louis Montjoye became maître on the 23 August 1748. From his marriage with Thérèse Ternizien he had four sons, Louis, Antoine-Joseph, Bernard-Joseph and Philippe-Gabriel who all became horlogers. The elder became maître horloger in 1766 but continued to work for his father until 1775.
Louis Montjoye worked on several occasions for the marchand-merciers Poirier and Daguerre. He owned a prosperous business and became marchand-horloger just before 1780. He retired at the beginning of the revolution to Jouy-le-Chatel (Seine et Marne) where his wife died in 1802.