Column clock of study and science by Osmond, Paris around 1770.
Important middle clock in finely chased, gilded and patinated bronze.
The counter base with friezes of interlacing and quadrilobes decorated with scrapers, is surmounted by a base with Greek scrolls and triangular cut.
Two cherubs, symbolizing study and science, are sitting languidly on the base littered with books, a set square and a ruler, and watch the time pass on the dial inserted in an antique column encircled by laurel leaves and surmounted by an antique cassolette.
The white enamel dial shows the hours in Roman numerals and the minutes in Arabic numerals; it is signed "Ageron à Paris".
The eight-day movement, with silk thread suspension, is signed on the back plate "Ageron Paris N°309".
The case is marked " Osmond ", at the bottom of the back of the base.
Perfect working condition, very good condition, original mercury gilding.
Parisian work of the Louis the XVth period, around 1765-1770.
Height : 44 cm ; Width : 27 cm ; Depth : 21 cm.
The drawing of our clock is preserved under N° 81 in the "Collection of clocks, models of clocks 1755-1780", preserved in the library of the INHA in Paris, Doucet collection.
Similar model published in « Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen », München 1986, p. 194.
Our opinion :
As indicated by the mark on our clock and the mention in the index of the collection of drawings, our column clock is indeed the work of the famous bronze makers Robert and Jean Baptiste Osmond who worked in the same workshop from 1753 and used the same mark.
The quality of the chasing and gilding confirms the talent of these bronze makers who were, with St Germain and Caffieri, in the top three of the best craftsmen of the reign of Louis the XVth.
The columned models, inherited from the beginnings of neoclassicism, following the rediscovery of the great ancient sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, were the favorite theme of the Osmond family.
Following the example of Hubert Robert, they put the ancient ruins on their clocks, this production was an immediate success, so much so that the Sèvres factory copied these iconic models, which the Osmonds published in several formats, more or less simple.
If several variants are known, always with a movement integrated in the same column, our middle clock, with its all-face decoration, is the most important in size and the richest in decoration.
It is quite interesting to note that several ornaments refer to the Masonic theme, such as the instruments (square and compass) which are frequent in the allegories of science and arts, but also the triangular cut of the base, which is rare on clocks of this period.
In view of their professional success and the purity of their designs, it is very likely that the Osmonds had the financial means to hire the best ornamentalists, among them Jean Charles Delefosse who was the great specialist of neoclassicism in France.
*François Ageron was a watchmaker who was received as a master in Paris on July 17th, 1741, and was one of the most important watchmakers of the second half of the 18th century.
He set up his workshop successively on the Place du Pont Saint-Michel, the Quai des Augustins, the Rue Saint-Louis au Palais and the Place Dauphine, and quickly acquired a great reputation among the great clock collectors.
He distinguishes himself by the high quality of his movements, often with complications. Like the most talented watchmakers of his time, he collaborated in the creation of the cases of his clocks with the best craftsmen, notably the cabinetmaker Balthazar Lieutaud and the founders Saint-Germain, Caffieri and Osmond. His clients included the elite of the Parisian nobility, the Count of Lannoy, the Count of La Tour du Pin, the Viscount of La Charce, Christian IV Prince Palatine of the Two Bridges and even Queen Marie Antoinette, since one of his clocks was mentioned in 1787 in the bedroom of the Queen's small apartments in Versailles.
He stopped his activity at the beginning of the 1780s and his business was sold on May the 31st, 1784. In the 18th century, some of his clocks were mentioned in large private collections, notably in those of François-Ferdinand. Finally, let us note particularly that a clock of Ageron was described in 1787 in the bedroom of the small apartments of the queen Marie-Antoinette in the Château de Versailles.
*Robert Osmond (1711 - 1789) was born in Canisy, near Saint-Lô ; he did his apprenticeship in the workshop of Louis Regnard, a master foundryman in clay and sand, becoming a master bronzer in Paris in 1746. He was first found on rue des Canettes, parish of St. Sulpice, and from 1761, on rue de Mâcon. Robert Osmond became a juror of his corporation, thus ensuring a certain protection of his rights as a designer. In 1753 his nephew left Normandy to join him, and in 1761 the workshop moved to the rue de Macon. The nephew, Jean-Baptiste Osmond (1742-after 1790) was received as master in 1764 ; after this date, he worked with his uncle ; their collaboration was so close that it is difficult to distinguish between the contributions of one and the other. Robert Osmond retired around 1775. Jean-Baptiste, who continued to run the workshop after his uncle's departure, soon ran into difficulties and went bankrupt in 1784. His uncle Robert died in 1789.
Prolific bronze and chisel makers, the Osmonds practiced the Louis the XVth and neoclassical styles with equal pleasure. Their work, appreciated by the connoisseurs of the time, was marketed by watchmakers and marchands-merciers. Although they produced all kinds of furniture bronzes, including andirons, sconces and inkwells, today they are best known for their clock cases, such as the one depicting the Rapture of Europe (Getty Museum, Malibu, CA,) in the Louis the XVth style, and two important neoclassical clocks, of which there are several models, as well as a vase with a lion's head (Musée Condé in Chantilly and the Cleveland Museum of Art) and a cartel with chased ribbons (examples in the Stockholm National museum and the Musée Nissim de Camondo in Paris). A remarkable clock, decorated with a globe, loves, and a Sèvres porcelain plate (Louvre, Paris) is also among their important works.
Initially devoted to the rocaille style, in the early 1760s they adopted the new neoclassical style, of which they soon became the masters. They supplied boxes to the best clockmakers of the time, including Montjoye, for whom they created boxes for cardboard and column clocks ; the column being one of the favorite motifs of the Osmond workshop.
32 000 €