THE PALAIS DE LUXEMBOURG AND THE TUILERIES
This clock is first mentioned in the April 1793 inventory of the comte de Provence's furniture in the Palais du Luxembourg, Paris. The comte de Provence was the brother of Louis XVI and the future Louis XVIII. The comte de Provence's papers, preserved in the French Archives (Rs 433), record payments of 13,264 livres made by the Prince's Garde-Meuble to Robin for clocks delivered between 1782 and 1783 to the Luxembourg.
The Palais du Luxembourg, which had been given to the comte de Provence and where he lived exclusively between October 1789 and June 1791, was confiscated along with its furnishings in September 1792. The building now houses the French assembly or Senat.
This clock was listed in the aforementioned 1793 inventory with the remark la commission du Commerce, indicating that it was considered a precious object reserved by the French government to be exchanged against arms, food and other necessities. It was not sold, however and appears again for the first time in the 1807 inventory of the Palais des Tuileries in the Grand Marchal's bedroom.
une pendule pilastre, socle en marbre bleu turquin, pos sur le piedouche, guirlandes, consoles renverses, rosastres, cornets d'abondance en cuivre cisel dor d'or mat. Elle est termine par deux tortereaux sur branche de laurier. Son cadran porte le nom de Robin
longeur du socle 33
Further recorded at the Tuileries in 1826 under the numbers 6643 and 9364, The clock is last described there in 1855, when it is listed in the Pavillion de Marsan under no 5547, a number which is stamped on the case.
Une pendule bronze cisel et dor, style Louis XVI, socle en marbre bleu turquin, PIEDS A BOULES MEPLATES, FRISE A RINCEAUX ET BRANCHES DE LIERRE, PIEDESTAL A CONSOLE ORNE DE BRANCHES DE LAURIER ET GUIRLANDE DE FLEURS ET FRUITS, CORNICHE A OVES SURMONTEE D'UN GROUPE DE TOURTEREAUX MOVEMENT A SONNERIE DE ROBIN
HT 0,56 LARGEUR 0,32
PRISEE 400 FRANCS.
The clock presumably remained in the Tuileries until the Palace was burned in 1871.
The design for this clock, attributed to Vion and composed by Duplessis, is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The principal difference may be seen in the urn which replaces the doves on this clock. Another clock, identical but with its original Bacchic mask to the frieze, almost certainly acquired by Baron Mayer Amschel de Rothschild, was sold from the collection of the 7th Earl of Rosebery, Mentmore Towers, Buckinghamshire, Sotheby's House Sale, 18 May 1977, lot 67.
Franois Vion is recorded in Paris, rue Quincampoix as a ciseleur in 1786. He was best known for his clock-cases, particularly for lyre-form clocks and a distinguished model depicting Sorrow, or "The Weeping Woman", (illustrated in J.D. Augarde, Les Ouvriers du Temps, Geneva, 1996, p. 243), Vion produced cases for the foremost clock-makers of the period, including the Lepaute workshop, the partnership of the brothers Jean-Andr (matrein 1759) and Jean-Baptiste (matre in 1776), and for Nicolas-Alexandre Folin, called Folin l'an (matre in 1789).
Interestingly, this ormolu case is attributed to the fondeur Lemoyne by J-D. Augarde in Les Ouvriers du Temps. He also states that Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette and Mesdames Victoire and Adlade owned similar clocks.