A very important Louis XVI patinated and gilt bronze and white marble figural clock of eight day duration, signed on the white enamel dial Lépine Place des Victoires, also fully signed and numbered 4354 on the movement. The exceptionally fine enamel dial attributed to Barbichon, with classical Arabic and Roman numerals for the minutes and hours and gilded and painted floral fleurs-de-lis, with a beautiful pair of pierced gilt brass hands. The spring driven movement with silk thread suspension, anchor escapement, striking on the hour and half hour on a single bell, with outside count wheel. The magnificent patinated and gilt bronze case attributed to François Rémond after models by the leading sculptor, Louis-Simon Boizot surmounted by a putto seated on a cloud, the dial supported on a gilded pedestal with bas-relief plaque depicting two putti with a bird, with two seated classical figures symbolizing Learning and Philosophy, the young man to the left with writing implements and the young woman to the right reading a book, on a rectangular round ended marble base ornamented with a central gilded frieze depicting an Apollo mask bordered by putti and foliate scrolls, with two outer Medusa medallions, supported on six gadrooned feet
Paris, date circa 1790
Height 57 cm, width 70 cm, depth 15 cm.
Literature: Cedric Jagger, "Royal Clocks", 1983, pp. 154, illustrating a clock in the British Royal Collection similarly signed Lépine, Place des Victoires, Paris, in a similar case but with an eagle instead of a putto and later alterations to the plinth. Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, "Vergoldete Bronzen", 1986, p. 295, pl. 4.17.5, illustrating a design of 1785, for a similar case surmounted by an eagle, from the 'Catalogue of François Rémond'; and pl. 4.17.6, illustrating a very similar case by Rémond. Pierre Kjellberg, "Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle", 1997, pp. 260 and 261, illustrating two other similar cases surmounted by eagles. Adolphe Chapiro, "Jean-Antoine Lépine, horloger (1720-1814)", front cover illustration showing a clock by Lépine in a very similar case surmounted by an eagle instead on a putto.
For a full discussion on the magnificent figural case attributed to François Rémond (b. circa 1747, d. 1812), after models in biscuit porcelain by Louis-Simon Boizot (1743-1809), see p. ?? in this book.
Jean-Antoine Lépine (1720-1814) was appointed clockmaker to both King Louis XV and Louis XVI for whom he supplied a large number of clocks. Lépine was also patronised by leading figures of his day including the Comtesse d'Artois and de Provence, many French aristocracy as well as the Spanish, British and Swedish royalty. His pieces are now in the world's finest collections including Musée Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels; Mathematisch-Physikalischer Salon, Dresden; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Musée d'Horlogerie de La Chaux-de-Fonds; Basle Museum; Musée du Louvre, Musée du Cognacq-Jay, Palais de l'Elysée, Paris as well as the Château de Versailles and the Spanish, Swedish and English Royal Collections.
Born in Challex, Lépine began his horological career in nearby Geneva. In circa 1744 he travelled to Paris, where he was apprenticed to André Caron (1697-1775), the King's clockmaker. He married Caron's daughter in 1756 and was promptly made a partner in his father-in-law's business. He was received as a maître in 1762 by decree, exempting him from lack of apprenticeship when he took over Caron's business. At about the same time he was appointed the coveted position of Horloger du Roi et du Garde-Meuble de la Coronne. Until 1772 he operated from rue Saint-Denis and then transferred his business several times until 1789 when it moved to 12 Place des Victoires. By this time the general running of the business was in the hands of his son-in-law, Claude-Pierre Raguet-Lépine (1753-1810), who had joined Lépine in 1783. Lépine was responsible for many technical and aesthetic horological innovations, of which the most celebrated is the 'Lépine calibre' which resulted in the production of the first genuinely thin watch. His clocks are among the finest in the history of clockmaking.
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