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A very important Louis XV gilt bronze astronomical mantle clock of eight day duration, signed on the case below the white enamel dial Millot, with Roman and Arabic numerals and a fine pair of pierced gilt brass hands for the hours and minutes with a moon phase aperture above 12 o’clock and seven other calendar apertures within the dial. The magnificent scrolled-shaped case surmounted by Apollo as the Sun God seated amid flowers and foliage, leaning upon a pedestal wearing a tunic and sandals holding a radiating sun medallion with arrows beside his feet, with foliate scrolls around the dial terminated by scrolled feet upon a stiff leaf pedestal flanked either side by roaring lion heads and claw feet on a pierced foliate scrolling base with laurel leaf border and foliate scrolled feet Paris, date circa 1760 Height 75 cm, width 48 cm, depth 33 cm. Elke Niehüser, “Die Französische Bronzeuhr”, 1997, p. 200, pls. 63 and 64, illustrating two mantle clocks with similar surmounting figure but without the lion head base. The importance of Pierre Millot (b. circa 1719 d. after 1785) Horloger du Roi cannot be overstated. He was known for his mechanical brilliance, specialising in clocks with complications and astronomical movements, of which the present one is a fine example. Millot presented Louis XV with such a clock, and as a result the king, who pursued a passion for such mechanisms and was keen to reward a select few with outstanding talent, gave Millot an allowance and the coveted title Horloger Pensionnaire du Roi. Jean-Dominique Augarde, in “Les Ouvriers du Temps”, 1996, p. 250 notes that Millot was possibly the maker of two royal clocks described as “equation clocks, the one solar and the other lunar, decorated with chased bronze gilt in ormolu relating to the sun and moon, with attributes of Apollo and Diana…” These were set on superb pedestals by Gilles Joubert and placed in the King’s bedchamber at Versailles 31st May 1763. During the Revolution, 1792 they were transported to the Tuileries but nothing is known of their whereabouts since their acquisition by the ministère de l’Intérieur. A later inventory notes that the second clock (with case representing Diana’s attributes) was a planetary clock (according to the Ptolemy system). Given the similarity in the description of the first royal clock and the present example it is possible that they are one and the same. It is known that in 1764 Millot supplied a clock to the king for the grand salon at Château de La Muette (the royal hunting lodge in the Bois de Boulogne, favoured by Louis XV to house his mistresses). Two years earlier Millot presented two of his new clocks to the Académie des Sciences. Born at Converpuis near Joinville, by 1742 he was working in Paris as a compagnon and was then received as a maître-horloger on 1st August 1754 by a decree of 25th June that same year. Working from rue Saint-Dominique he enjoyed the patronage of many of the leading figures of his day, not least the King himself but also that of M. Dejean, the marquis de Beringhem, the duc d’Aumont as well as the duc and duchesse de Chevreuse, while today some of his works remain in important private collections and at Schloss Nymphenburg, Munich. He appears to have delighted in complicated movements and thus in addition to those with astronomical movements or equation he also made carillon clocks i.e. ones that played musical pieces on a series of bells at predetermined intervals. His success brought financial rewards to the extent that Millot was the owner of a country house at Issy where he went in the summer. He continued working until he retired to Sens in 1785. In 1754 Millot married Thérèse Emilie Lefebre by whom he had Jean-Pierre-Nicolas (maître-horloger 1785) and Thérèse-Emilie who married Nicolas Thomas (d. after 1806) Horloger du Roi. Millot used the finest cases, some of which were made by Robert and J B Ormond; he is also known to have collaborated with the great French Baroque sculptor René Michel (also known as Michel-Ange or Michelangelo) Slodtz (1705-64) for differing case designs. The present case is of exception quality and of an unusual design, portraying the Olympian deity Apollo who in later antiquity became associated with the sun god Helios (Sol). A number of Apollo’s attributes are portrayed here notably the sunburst medallion which he holds in his left hand while pointing to it with his right. Also included are Apollo’s arrows and laurel leaves as well as the lion heads, which relate to Leo the zodiac sign for the sun.

 


Richard Redding Antiques Ltd.
Dorfstrasse 30
8322 Gündisau, Switzerland,
tel +41 44 212 00 14
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