An Empire marble, bronze and ormolu table clock with planetarium, signed on the enamel dial Z. Raingo à Paris, c. 1810-15. The chased and gilt bronze antique rotunda-form case is composed of an upper ring bordered by a spiral-reeded mount, with enamel lozenge-form cartouches bearing the names of the zodiac signs against a green lacquered ground, as well as the months and the date; this ring rests on green-lacquered bronze pillars with gilt bronze plinths, terminating in female heads, which in turn rest on a round green marble platform decorated with a gilt bronze leaf frieze. It is supported by a moulded white marble base adorned with the chased gilt bronze signs of the zodiac. The whole is raised on flattened ball feet. Behind the dial, in the centre of the platform, a column supports the planetarium, which is activated by an ivory crank handle. The planetarium’s rings and dials indicate: the daily rotation of the Earth, its orbit around the Sun, the position of the Earth at the equinoxes, the moon’s orbit around the Earth, its rotation on its axis, the moon phases as seen from the Earth, and lunar and solar time. The ring dial has Roman hour numerals and Arabic five-minute divisions. The time is indicated a pair of pierced gilt brass hands, the days of the week by a blued steel pointer. It is supported by two gilt bronze monopoedia with lions’ heads and paw feet. • This Raingo planetarium clock embodies the aesthetic and technical culmination of this type of clock, one of the first examples of which was made in the early 18th century for the Count of Orrery by Englishman John Rowley. In the early 19th century certain French horologists, including Antide Janvier, tried their hand at creating such pieces. However, the clocks made by Raingo were the most sought after due to the elegance of their cases and the perfection of their movements and mechanisms. By 1810, Raingo had registered a patent, accompanied by a sketch, for a gilt bronze planetarium similar to the present piece; it is very likely the one that was ordered by Paul Arconati, Baron of Gaesbeek, as a gift to the Sultan of Turkey. Never delivered, that clock remained in the Gaesbeek family until it was acquired by the Brussels Musée du Cinquantenaire. A few other planetarium clocks by Raingo exist, but most, with rotunda cases veneered in mahogany or burr walnut, date from a later period. Examples may be found in the Royal British and Royal Spanish Collections, the London Science Museum and the Paris Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. • Height: 34 cm. • The maker, Zacharie Raingo, was born in Mons, Belgium; this horologist is recorded as working in Tournai in 1806, and in Ghent around 1810. Shortly afterwards he settled in Paris, soon being named ‘Clockmaker to the Duke of Chartres’ and in 1824 ‘Clockmaker to the Crown’. Within a period of just a few years, Raingo became one of the best known precision horologists of the Empire and Restoration periods.
The Horological Foundation Desk Diary Project.
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