Thermometer, Barometer and Wall Clock by F. Berthoud, Paris Louis XV period around 1765.
Luxurious scientific object acting as a clock, barometer and thermometer.
Of violin shape, it has a rosewood veneer decorated with finely chased and gilded bronzes.
The large enamelled dial of the barometer, with cut brass and blued steel hands, indicates the meteorological range from "Fine weather" to "Storm", it is signed "Ferdinand Berthoud in Paris".
Above, the enamelled dial of the clock indicates the hours in Roman numerals and the minutes in Arabic numerals, it is also signed "Ferdinand Berthoud".
Finally, a glass thermometer graduated on a white enamelled plate indicates the temperature in degrees Réaumur, as was the case in France in the mid-18th century.
(The degree Réaumur is worth 1,25 degree Celsius)
The graduation value is between -28 degrees and + 45 degrees.
The record cold temperatures for Paris, in 1709 (-15 degrees), 1740, 1742 and 1754, but also the polar temperatures of the Russian city of St Petersburg -21 or that of Pondichery (+33 degrees) are indicated.
Other mentions, such as the adequate heat for a patient's room, inform us about the customs of the time.
The original movement, with its silk thread suspension, is signed "Ferdinand Berthoud" on the reverse of the plate.
The springs are signed "Richard Janvier 1769"*.
The oak case and back cover are stamped "St Germain" and "JME" *.
Rich ornamentation of finely chiseled bronzes gilded with mercury, attributable to the bronzer-smelter Jean Joseph de St Germain.*
Perfect state of conservation, original gilding, perfect working condition of the clock and the thermometer, barometer tube missing, restoration of use to the marquetry.
Work of the clockmaker and mechanic of the king and the navy Ferdinand Berthoud, Paris Louis XV period around 1765-1770.
Height : 118 cm ; Width : 34 cm.
Provenance : Castle in Normandy.
Similar model by Ferdinand Berthoud in the Getty Museum (inventory number 2015.59)
Nearby models :
Metropolitan Museum of New York (inventory no. 1982.60.52).
Victoria and Albert Museum (Inventory no. 1097.1882).
Collection of the castle of Hauteville, Hotel des ventes de Genève 12 September 2015 (31720 Swiss francs).
Steinitz Taste III sale, 6 December 2007, Christie's London lot 135 (36 500 GBP).
* Ferdinand Berthoud, born on March 18th, 1727 in Plancemont-sur-Couvet (Principality of Neuchâtel, Kingdom of Prussia) and died in Groslay on June 20th, 1807, is a watchmaker and researcher from Neuchâtel. He became a master watchmaker in Paris in 1753. He held the position of Clockmaker and Mechanic of the King and the Navy, leaving a work of exceptional scope, particularly in the field of marine chronometers.
*Etienne-Claude RICHARD, spring maker, born in 1747, apprentice in 1767, Master in 1775.
* Joseph de Saint-Germain (1700-1769), received master cabinetmaker on July 31st, 1750. This craftsman was the father of the founder Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain (1719-1791).
He specialized in the making of wooden cases and boxes for clocks.
He first worked as a free worker in the Faubourg St Antoine before being received as a master cabinetmaker in 1750, in accordance with the new statutes of the Jurande.
*Jean-Joseph de St Germain (1719-1791) received master foundryman in earth and sand by masterpiece on July 15th, 1748.
He was one of the greatest bronze smiths of the reign of Louis XV.
In 1765 he became a juror for the guild of foundrymen and chiselers, a staunch defender of authors' rights, he proposed and voted for the obligation for the bronziers to sign their works.
Indeed, as he indicates in an advertising label of his workshop of the street St Nicolas : he sells "all kinds of boxes and trimmings in ormolu" and "makes the drawings and models in wax".
He is the creator of many successful models such as the cartel with the two Chinese men, the clock with rhinoceros, elephant, bull .... and therefore one of the most copied artists of his lifetime.
Our opinion :
Our piece combines the talents of the father and son St Germain, with those of the king's mechanic Ferdinand Berthoud.
Thermometers and barometers are reserved for an elite until the reign of Louis XVI, they are real scientific objects that very few engineers knew how to produce.
A small number of models from this period have reached us and among the most beautiful are our piece and its counterpart in the collection of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Because of the great reputation of Ferdinand Berthoud, who worked extensively for the king, many copies bearing his name were produced during the 19th century, and it is precisely for this reason that our example was poorly appraised in the past, i.e. given as being in the Louis XV style, with old elements.
A meticulous dismantling of all the pieces and a thorough comparative study allow us to affirm that our piece dates from the Louis XV period, more precisely from the period 1765-1770.
The Getty Museum has an almost identical model (inventory number 2015.59).
On the structure, the wooden core has a black lacquered reverse, in accordance with the cartel cases of the period, the traces of wood chisels (for the adaptation of the tube and the bell) reveal a natural reddening of the oak, as can be seen on secular pieces dating from the ancien régime.
The edges of the back cover are filed, for a perfect finish.
The stamp of the cabinetmaker "St Germain" is identical in size and character to several other pieces of the master cabinetmaker formerly in our collection.
This attribution is further confirmed by the presence of a barometer of similar shape stamped "St Germain" and "JME" in the collections of Drottningholm Castle in Stockholm, which leaves no doubt as to the authorship of the model.
All the bronzes have a sand casting, a cold chasing and a gilding that are characteristic of the reign of Louis XV.
The two bezels, the thermometer ring and the bronzes have a homogeneous gilding.
Some of the screws fixing the bronzes are still original, as are the hooks of the back cover and the ivory wheel of the barometer.
As for the instruments, the three dials have the same counter-enamel.
A dial identical to that of our barometer is found on a three-dial floor regulator signed Berthoud. (Lot 236, sale of the furniture of the castle of Vaux-Praslin, April 5, 1875).
Another very similar dial is visible on a second regulator by Ferdinand Berthoud, published on page 281 of J.D Augarde's book « Les Ouvriers du temps ».
On these two regulators, Berthoud included, as on our piece and on the one at the Getty, the same functions. (Barometer, clock and thermometer).
The movement, which is undeniably original, has springs signed "Richard" and dated "1769".
Moreover, the original bezels have fixed eyelets on the front, which are similar to those present on the copy of the Getty Museum.
These eyelets and the atypical diameter of the two movements prove that they were produced especially for this type of instrument.
The work we present is therefore entirely original, it is simply a museum piece that perfectly represents the quintessence of the decorative arts and the genius of the reign of Louis XV.