Offered by Richard Redding Antiques
Leading antique and fine art gallery, specialises in the finest French clocks.
An extremely fine Empire gilt bronze vert de mer marble and blue and gilt enamel mantel clock by Lepaute Oncle & Nevue of eight day duration signed on the white enamel dial Lepaute and stamped and numbered CL:l816. The dial with Roman and Arabic numerals with blued steel hands for the hours and minutes. The movement with knife edge suspension, anchor escapement and striking on the hour and half hour, with outside count wheel. The dial with a stiff leaf bezel surrounded by twelve gilded stars on a blue ground. The dial drum supported on a fluted column and seemingly held aloft by the two Muses Terpsichore and Erato in diaphanous dress who stand either side of the column and cross their hands beneath the dial drum. On a shaped gilded plate on a rectangular vert de mer base with canted corners mounted at the front with a ribbon-tied harp and pipe and at the corners by ribbon-tied floral crowns, on bun feet
Paris, date circa 1810
Height 58 cm, width 27 cm, depth 18 cm.
Literature: Ernest Dumonthier, “Les Bronzes du Mobilier National – Pendules et Cartels, Bronzes d’éclairage et de chauffage”, 1911, pl. 54, illustrating an almost identical clock by Lepaute in the Palais de Fontainebleau. Jean-Pierre Samoyault, “Pendules et Bronzes d’Ameublement Entrés sous le Premier Empire”, 1989, p. 57, no. 14, illustrating and describing the above clock delivered to the Palais de Fontainebleau. And 56, illustrating a very similar clock but with a pendulum hanging between the two female figures and a much simpler bezel, which was delivered by Lepaute Oncle & Neveu on 23rd August 1806 to the appartement de grand maréchal at Fontainebleau.
On 9th October 1809 an almost identical clock by Lepaute Oncle & Neveu was delivered to the Palais de Fontainebleau for the bedroom in the petit appartement de l’Impératrice. The design is remarkably similar to the present example except that instead of a fluted column, the Fontainebleau clock drum is supported on a pyramidal obelisk. A submission from Lepaute, dated 31st August 1809 described it in flourishing terms, as une très jolie pendule à deux figures, représentant Terpsichore et Erato supportant un boisseau posé sur un obélisque d’un arrière-corps. Ce grouppe tout en bronze est posé sur un socle en marbre vert de mer, décoré de couronnes et ornements analogues au sujet. Le tout est bien réparé, ciselé et parfaitement doré au mat. Le mouvement est à sonnerie avec échappement à chevilles, de la plus parfaite exécution. Le cadre du cadran est entoué d’un champ d’asure, pasemé d’etoiles d’or. Cette pièce est recouverte d’un verre oval, portant environ 26 pouces de hauteur. Pour le prix de .. 1500”.
The dial surrounded by twelve gilded stars on a blue lacquered ground also compares with two oeil de boeuf cartel clocks, which were supplied to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1810 for the Grand Trianon, Versailles where they still hang (illustrated and described in Denise Ledoux-Lebard, “Le Grand Trianon, Meubles et Objets d’Art”, 1975, pp. 91 and 111). Like them, this beautiful clock is fitted with a movement by the celebrated firm of clockmakers Lepaute à Paris which at that period was being run by Pierre-Basile Lepaute, known as Sully-Lepaute (1750-1843) and his nephew Jean-Joseph Lepaute, known as Collignon (b. circa 1768 d. 1846). The horological concern had been founded by Jean-André Lepaute (1720-89) and his brother Jean-Baptiste Lepaute (1727-1802). Their nephew Pierre-Basile Lepaute, known as Sully-Lepaute, who was born at Thonne-le-Thil, initially joined his uncles and cousin in Paris in about 1766 and served his apprenticeship in the family workshop. From 1774 Pierre-Basile worked as a de facto associate with Jean-Baptiste Lepaute and his cousin Pierre-Henry (1749-1806) until he and the latter purchased their uncle’s business in 1789. Following Pierre-Henry’s withdrawal in 1795, Pierre-Basile took in his nephew Jean-Joseph Lepaute, known as Collignon who worked together under the name of Lepaute Oncle & Neveu. This association enjoyed great repute, gaining influential clients and winning a silver medal at the Exposition des Produits de l’Industrie of 1806, at which time the business was based at rue Saint-Thomas-du-Louvre. From 1811 Pierre-Basile formed a new association with his son Pierre-Michel (1785-1849) under the name of Lepaute et Fils. Two years later he created a clock for the Palais de Fontainebleau and about the same time ones for Saint-Cloud as well as Compiègne. During Napoleon’s reign the firm became the main supplier of clocks to the Garde-Meuble and was appointed Horloger de l’Empereur. After the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy they were titled Horloger du Roi, whereupon Lepaute’s firm continued as one of the main suppliers of clocks to the Garde-Meuble and distinguished itself at the Expositions des Produits de l’Industrie in 1819 and 1823.