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Louis XVI Clock with Sphinxes in Gilt Bronze, signed Lepaute
Louis XVI Clock with Sphinxes in Gilt Bronze, signed Lepaute - Clocks Style Louis XVI
Ref : 81964
Price on Request
Period :
18th century
Artist :
Lepaute, Osmond
Medium :
Gilt bronze, marble
Dimensions :
l. 18.9 inch X H. 18.11 inch X P. 4.72 inch
Clocks  - Louis XVI Clock with Sphinxes in Gilt Bronze, signed Lepaute
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Exceptional clocks and decorative art objects 17th-19th century

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Louis XVI Clock with Sphinxes in Gilt Bronze, signed Lepaute

Bronze Mounts attributed to Robert Osmond

Important Clock with Sphinxes in White Marble, Spanish Brocatelle Marble and Gilt Bronze

Paris, Louis XVI period, circa 1785
Height 46 cm; width 48cm; depth 12 cm

The round enamel dial, signed “Lepaute à Paris”, indicates the Arabic numeral hours, the fifteen-minute intervals and date by means of three hands, two of which are made of pierced and gilt bronze. The Neoclassical case is made of white statuary marble and Spanish brocatelle marble with finely chased gilt bronze mounts. The movement is housed in a case shaped like an antique milestone, decorated with scrolling palm leaves in its corners and a laurel torus at its base, which is surmounted by a moulded entablature on which a winged Cupid with its quiver slung across its chest, sits among clouds and raises its index finger, admonishing the viewer to silence. On either side, two sphinxes sit, supported on their forelegs, with tails that terminate in scrolling foliage. The rectangular base with rounded corners is adorned with a frieze of stylised leaves and features an applied frieze of palmettes and a central bas-relief scene depicting a satyr dancing with nymphs. The clock is raised upon six tapering gadrooned feet with beading.

The present clock, an early example of the Egyptomania craze that was popular in France during the reign of Louis XVI, is one of the finest examples of Parisian horology of the time. It is inspired by the work of contemporary designers, including an engraving by Jean-François Forty which is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Paris, 1997, p. 173, fig. C, as well as a drawing by the architect François-Joseph Bélanger (1744-1818) depicting a clock that was delivered in 1781 to the Salon of the Comte d’Artois’ Bagatelle pavilion; a “modèle Artois” clock is in the Wallace Collection in London (see Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème partie: Du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1975, p. 239). The present clock is exceptional due to the quality of its bronze case, which may confidently be attributed to Robert Osmond, as well as to the seated position of the sphinxes, which is found on a few other examples from the same period and in the same style. Among them, one clock made by Godon for the King of Spain, which is in the Royal Spanish Collections (illustrated in J. Ramon Colon de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio nacional, Madrid, 1987, p. 77, catalogue n° 61). Another clock, today in a private collection, is illustrated in M. Burckhardt, Mobilier Louis XVI, Editions Charles Massin, Paris, p. 25. A third and particularly elaborate example, which is decorated with allegorical figures, was formerly in the Chappey collection (illustrated in P. Kjellberg, op.cit., Paris, 1997, p. 258, fig. A). One further similar clock was delivered by Lepaute to the Comte d’Artois and is today displayed in the King’s Chamber in the Petit Trianon (see the exhibition catalogue Le château de Versailles raconte le Mobilier national, Quatre siècles de création, Paris, 2011, p. 149-151).
Given the date of the present clock, it was very likely made by Pierre-Basile Lepaute, known as Sully-Lepaute (1750-1843), one of the most important Parisian clockmakers of the late 18th century and early 19th century.

Robert Osmond (1711-1789)
One of the most important Parisian bronze casters of the last third of the 18th century, in 1746 he was made "maître-fondeur en terre et sable" and became a juré of the corporation of bronze casters in 1756. He was extremely well known throughout his career. Influenced by the work of his fellow caster Caffieri, Osmond was one of the precursors of the new style in the French decorative arts that began as of the mid 1760’s. His work was particularly appreciated by the important collectors of the time, which allowed him to expand his workshop very quickly. He worked with his nephew Jean-Baptiste Osmond, who became a master founder in 1764 and succeeded him after his death in 1789. Osmond’s clients were part of the avant garde elite of the time.

Pierre-Basile Lepaute, known as Sully-Lepaute (1750-1843)
Was one of the most important Parisian clockmakers of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In the mid 1760’s he went to work with his uncles, who were also clockmakers, and began his training in the family workshop. In the early days he was in partnership with his uncle and cousin, in 1789 becoming sole owner of the workshop. Toward the end of the 18th century, he and his nephew Jean-Joseph Lepaute founded a new company that was active until 1811 and won a silver medal at the 1806 Exposition des Produits de l’Industrie. In 1811, his nephew opened his own workshop, while Pierre-Basile and his son Pierre-Michel (1785-1849) founded a new firm called “Lepaute et fils”. For several decades they were the principal suppliers of clocks to the Imperial and Royal Garde-Meuble; they were named, successively, Horloger de l’Empereur and Horloger du Roi.

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