France, Louis XVI period
Chased and gilt bronze
Carrara white marble
The enamelled dial is signed Deribaucourt
André-Alexandre Deribaucourt, master clockmaker in 1770
After a drawing by Antoine Foullet (circa 1710-1775)
- Antoine Foullet, Small Prudence clock, circa 1760, bedroom of the “Grand Duke” or secretary room, Pavlovsk Palace, Saint-Petersburg (inv. 1389-IV)
- Unknown, Clock: Prudence or Cleopatra, circa 1780, Louvre museum (inv. OA 6625)
Presumably identical examples, 18th century collections:
- A similar clock went on sale in the collections of the Count of Merle on March 1st, 1784, p. 108, lot 217: “A clock, striking the hours and half, by Baillon, accompanied by a figure of a seated woman, well draped, holding a mirror in one hand, a snake in the other, and leaning on the clock ; the whole placed on a grooved plinth, a woman’s mask, squares and laurel garlands and a lion’s muzzle in gilt bronze on a double blackened wooden plinth decorated with roses, mouldings and balls: height 12 inches 4 lines”
- An identical clock is also described in the inventory after death drawn up in 1772 of Jean-Baptiste Baillon, valet de chambre-horloger ordinaire of the dauphine Marie-Antoinette
This desk clock in chased and gilt bronze represents the allegory of Prudence in the shape of a woman, dressed in the antique style, extending and leaning against a fluted terminal supporting the dial. In her right hand, she holds a mirror in which she looks at herself as a snake is wrapped around her left hand.
The overall rests on a plinth framed by a matte border adorned with two rosettes. A woman’s head surrounded by garlands of foliage decorates its centre. This plinth rests on a white marble counter-base adorned with a putti in relief playing with a garland of flowers around the column base, framed with roses. The overall rests on spinning top legs. The white enamelled dial with Roman numerals for the hours and Arabic numerals for the minutes, is signed Deribaucourt à Paris.
An Allegory of Prudence
This model was designed by Antoine Foullet (circa 1710-1775), a Parisian cabinetmaker and merchant. His drawing, dated from 1763, appears in the Livre de dessin de pendules, published around 1765 under the title “Pieces for office, small Prudence, Foulet, color 275 gold pounds, gilding 187 gold pounds, golden price 462 gold pounds” preserved at the Doucet Library and signed by the founder Pierre Antoine Foullet, with the inscription “Piece for the office, Small Prudence”.
The theme of Prudence is illustrated here according to the description of Cesare Ripa’s Iconology presenting a woman holding a mirror and a snake, a traditional attribute of Intelligence. The mirror has been in usage since the Middle Age and it signifies consciousness and the prediction of the future. This theme had a great success with clockmakers circle in the 18th century and during several years. However, it was only lately identified: in 1884, Albert Jacquemart believed to see in it an allegory of truth. It was also thought as a representation of Cleopatra, especially due to the presence of the mirror, symbolism of beauty, and of the snake.
An exemplar of this clock is described during the sale of the cCunt of Merle on March 1st, 1784, lot 217: “A clock, striking the hours and half, by Baillon, accompagnied by a figure of a seated woman, well draped, a hand holding a mirror, the other a snake, and leaning on the clock ; the overall placed on a grooved plinth, a woman’s mask, a garland of laurels and square, a gilt bronze lion’s muzzle on a double blackened wooden plinth adorned with rosettes, mouldings and balls: height 12 inches 4 lines” as well as in the inventory after the death of Jean-Baptiste Baillon, valet de chambre-horloger ordinaire of the dauphine Marie- Antoinette, drawn up in 1772.
Antoine Foullet (circa 1710-1775)
Antoine Foullet was received Master cabinetmaker in 1749 and became juror of his corporation in 1756. Specialised in the production of clock cases, he made longcase clock sheaths. From 1752, he closely collaborated with Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, Parisian founder well renowned in the realisation of clock cases. He nevertheless do not seem to have been limited to this type of production. He thus stamped several chests of drawers close to the ones stamped by his son, Pierre-Antoine Foullet, which presumes that the two men have been working together.
Emmanuel Ducamp (dir.), Pavlosk, Les collections, Paris, Alain de Gourcuff, 1993, p. 184. Pierre Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Âge au XXe siècle, Paris, Les Éditions de l’amateur, 1997.
Elke Niehüser, French Bronze Clocks, Atglen, Schiffer, 1999.
Hans Ottomeyer et Peter Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, München, Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1986, p.162.
Tardy,La pendule française dans le monde, Paris, Tardy, 1994 (7e édition revue et complétée).
Pierre Verlet, Les Bronzes dorés du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, Picard, 1999 (2e édition).
D’après François Vion, d’après Robert Osmond, d’après Pierre-Antoine Foullet, d’après Jean- Joseph de Saint-Germain, d’après Charles Grimpelle, d’après Balthazar Lieutaud, Recueil de desseins. Modèles de pendules, 1755-1780, Bibliothèque d’Art et d’Archéologie Jacques Doucet, Bibliothèque nationale de France (inv. VI E 15 Rés, folio 34).
12 000 €
4 300 €