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Rousseau and Voltaire thermometer clock, Paris circa 1778
Rousseau and Voltaire thermometer clock, Paris circa 1778 - Horology Style Louis XVI Rousseau and Voltaire thermometer clock, Paris circa 1778 - Rousseau and Voltaire thermometer clock, Paris circa 1778 - Louis XVI Antiquités - Rousseau and Voltaire thermometer clock, Paris circa 1778
Ref : 96685
28 000 €
Period :
18th century
Artist :
Causard horloger suivant la cour
Provenance :
Medium :
Ormolu, glass, wood
Dimensions :
l. 11.81 inch X H. 17.32 inch
Horology  - Rousseau and Voltaire thermometer clock, Paris circa 1778 18th century - Rousseau and Voltaire thermometer clock, Paris circa 1778 Louis XVI - Rousseau and Voltaire thermometer clock, Paris circa 1778 Antiquités - Rousseau and Voltaire thermometer clock, Paris circa 1778
Franck Baptiste Paris

16th to 19th century furniture and works of art

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Rousseau and Voltaire thermometer clock, Paris circa 1778

Exceptional pendulum in finely chiseled bronze and gilded with mercury, églomisé* glass and blackened wood.
Model says to "The Dispute of Rousseau and Voltaire".
The clock rests on a multi-lobed base in blackened wood enriched with interlacing friezes in gilded bronze.
Above, on a mound, Rousseau and Voltaire are both leaning and facing each other.
They are richly dressed in frock coats, waistcoats embellished with lace and wear wigs and hats.
At their feet, books are strewn on the ground.
The drum on which they are leaning contains the movement and the white enameled dial which is signed "Causard Horloger Seul la cour"*.
Two silver hands adorned with rhinestones indicate the hours in Roman numerals and the minutes in Arabic numerals.
Above the drum, an obelisk crowned with a pine cone presents a spiraled thermometer on a white églomisé glass background.

A coat of arms under the crown of a marquis bears the mention "Duel of a poet" in the central cartouche.
The plate indicates the heat records with the temperature of Senegal, of Paris in 1753, the body temperature of a hen, the culture of silkworms, the temperate temperature, that of the solidification of water or even the records cold for Paris with the years 1709, 1740, 1754, 1767 and 1776.
The plate is signed "VAFFE Fecit".

Original movement with silk thread suspension in perfect working order.
Strikes the hours and half hours.
Springs signed "Richard 1778".*

Thermometer in working order.

Beautiful original mercury gilding.

Parisian work from the beginning of the Louis XVI period around 1778.


Height: 44cm; Width: 33cm

Similar model in the collections of the Carnavalet museum in Paris. (Inv. No. MB744)

Our opinion :

The clock that we present perfectly symbolizes the spirit of enlightenment, with the subject of two of the greatest French authors of the 18th century, who not only revolutionized the literature of the time but also offered diametrically opposed visions of society.
The epistolary duel between these two great thinkers reached its climax in 1755 following the publication by Rousseau of his Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men.
In this text, he presents man as naturally good but perverted by civilization, exalts the original state of nature and sees in the birth of the right to property the source of all evil.
Voltaire sends him a letter full of fierce irony to which Rousseau will respond a month later...
This rivalry between these two sacred monsters will only end with their death, a month apart in 1778, on May 30 for Voltaire and July 2 for Rousseau.
The date of creation of our clock is not insignificant, as indicated by the dating of the springs (1777) which is always slightly earlier than the marketing of the clock, it is probably a tribute designed the very year of their deaths.
The obelisk is also a stele of homage, even a tomb of glory, like the pyramids of Egypt, but it is also a nod to their membership in Freemasonry.
The rarity and preciousness of the model, with silver hands embellished with rhinestones, are confirmed by the signature of the king's watchmaker and by the few known examples.
At the level of the bronzier, even if we cannot be sure, we can put forward the name of Jean-Joseph de St Germain who collaborated extensively with Edme-Jean Causard and whose carving and gilding work corresponds perfectly to his production.

*Églomisé glass: The technique of églomisé glass, already known in the first Christian art, consisted in engraving decorative motifs on a glass plate covered with gold leaf. Then, the back was painted in a uniform color, black or dark blue, in order to make the design appear. The contrast effect achieved with the golden surface was sometimes enriched with red and green.
The name of the technique is a derivative of the name of Jean Baptiste Glomy (1711-1786), famous framer of the 18th century.
* Causard Horloger du Roy according to the Court” corresponds to the signature of Edme-Jean Causard (1718-1780), one of the most important Parisian watchmakers of the reign of Louis XV. Initially working as a free worker, he became the King's Privileged Watchmaker around 1753 and set up his workshop on rue Saint Honoré. Like the best Parisian watchmakers of the time, Causard surrounded himself with the most talented cabinetmakers or bronziers for the creation of the cases of his clocks, calling on Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, Nicolas Petit and the Osmonds. In the 18th century, some of his achievements are mentioned in particular by the Maréchal de Duras, Blondel de Gagny and the Marquise de Langeac.

*Etienne-Claude RICHARD, Manufacturer of springs, born in 1747 apprentice in 1767, Master in 1775.

Franck Baptiste Paris


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