A very rare and beautiful Louis XVI gilt bronze cartel clock with barometer, the clock movement by Renacle-Nicolas Sotiau, the barometer by Antoine Carcano and dial by Jean-Antoine Cave, signed on the white enamel clock dial Sotiau à Paris and on the white enamel barometer dial at 6 o'clock Carcano Place Dauphine and below it signed Cave. The main dial with inner Roman and outer Arabic numerals and a fine pair of gilt brass hands for the hours and minutes, the barometer dial marked with weather conditions ranging from Tempéte (stormy) to Très-Sec (very dry) with a gilded pointer against a star studded centre. The case with clock dial flanked by ribbons adorned with lily sprays, looped through a surmounting ring and suspended from a feigned nail by a ribbon tied in a large bow, the barometer dial below set within an elaborately chased shaped rectangular door above a circular medallion depicting putti with a globe and telescope above a berried terminal
Paris, date circa 1775-85
Height 103 cm, width 43.5 cm.
A cartel clock and matching barometer of this rare model were sold from the collection of the comte de Greffulhe by Sotheby's London, 23rd July 1937, lot 46. Other cartels suspended from ribbon-ties with musical trophies are known including one in the Wrightsman Collection. The importance of this particular work not only relies upon its rare design but also the combination of its makers, all of whom were leaders in their field. The movement was made by Renacle-Nicolas Sotiau (1749-91), who was one of the most famous Parisian clockmakers during Louis XVI's reign. Born in Liège, he was received as a mâitre-horloger in 1782 and based at rue Saint-Honoré he held the title of Horloger de Mgr le Dauphin, (Louis XVI's son). Much of his work was commissioned by the marchands-merciers Dominique Daguerre and François Darnault and was owned by some of the richest and most powerful people of the day, namely Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette as well as Louis XV's daughters, Mesdames Victoire and Adelaide, the ducs de Choiseul, de Polignac and de Praslin, the marquise de Brunoy, the marquis de Sérent, the comte de Vaudreuil, the German prince Fréric Othon de Salm-Kyrbourg and the Prince Regent of England. Today one can find clocks by Sotiau among the world's greatest collections such as Château de Versailles, the Patrimonio Nacional Spain, the Walters Art Gallery Baltimore, the Huntington Collection San Marino California and in the British Royal Collection.
As one of the best in his field Sotiau collaborated with other eminent makers, one of whom was Antoine Carcano (c.1755-1820), a barometer and thermometer maker as well as inventor of scientific instruments. Of Italian descent he gained his name in Paris, firstly at 37 rue de la Roquette in the Faubourg St. Antoine and then at Place Dauphine on the Ile de la Cité, where he was based when making the present barometer. The quality of his scientific acumen led to him supplying barometers and other scientific instruments to the L'école Militaire, 1786 while the following year he supplied a tube barometer (probably one of many) to Peter Dollond (1731-1821), the British manufacturer of optical instruments (whose firm became Dollond and Aitchison). During the Revolution Carcano was recruited as a policeman at the Bastille though he wrote to the National Convention asking to continue his scientific experiments. During the Empire his clientele included Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford the American born British physicist who in 1813 received a Carcano thermometer vase for measuring the heat of various solids and liquids. Carcano's barometer dial is signed at the bottom with the name of enamellist Jean-Antoine Cave, who like many of the finest late eighteenth century Parisian enamellists gets little mention in the biographies, though Tardy cites one of his dials being dated 1776.