Tardy, "Les Plus Belles Pendules Françaises", 1994, p. 342, illustrating an almost identical cartel by Lepaute commissioned by Napoleon for Château de Compiègne, and on the same page a simpler cartel with a circular star studded case without any ribbon by Jean-Joseph Lepaute. D. Ledoux-Lebard, "Le Grand Trianon, meubles et objets d'art", 1975, p. 111, illustrating a simpler version of this cartel without the ribbon ties by Jean-Joseph Lepaute which was delivered to the salon de l'Empereur at the Grand Trianon, 12th March 1810 and described as "une pendule forme médaillon, en bronze doré mat, mouvement à sonnerie, cadran de plus de 22 cm de diamètre. Prix fait à 700F".
A very rare Directoire gilt bronze cartel clock du Congrès by Jean-Joseph Lepaute signed on the very fine white enamel dial J. Jh. Lepaute Place du Palais Royal à Paris and also signed by the esteemed dial painter Dubuisson with Roman and Arabic numerals and a pair of blued steel Breguet style hands for the hours and minutes. The movement striking on the hours and on the half hours. The elegant case with the bezel surrounded by a ring mounted by twelve stars within an outer ring cast with lotus leaf banding and tied around the middle by a band of ribbon gathered through a ring above 12 o'clock and suspended from above by a stylized rosette-shaped clip and then falling as loose drapery below the dial
Paris, date circa 1795
Height 122 cm, width 41 cm.
Another cartel du Congrès or Congress clock by Lepaute of the same model was commissioned by Napoleon for Château de Compiègne. It was later used under the Third Republic for sessions for the National Assembly and is probably the same as the one that now hangs in the vestibule of President's residence at Palais de l'Elysée. The general design of the model is based on a number of late eighteenth century thermometer and barometer cases made from either carved wood or gilt bronze. These inspired a number of clock cases of the same basic design but with more intricate gilt bronze mounts; among them was a cartel with a movement by Nicolas Sotiau from the Steinitz Collection (sold at Christie's, London, 6th December 2007, lot 132) as well as another in the Wrightsman Collection, Metropolitan Museum, New York with a movement by Simon Buzot and case decorated with musical trophies suspended from a tied ribbon (illustrated in F. J. B. Watson, "The Wrightsman Collection", 1966, vol. II, no. 184, p. 363). However closer in its simplicity is a gilt bronze cartel suspended by ribbon ties signed on the dial Cronier à Paris (illustrated in Pierre Kjellberg, "Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle", 1997, p. 195, pl. B).
Jean-Joseph Lepaute, known as Collignon (b. circa 1768 d. 1846), who was born at Bièvres in the Ardennes, was the great nephew of Jean-André Lepaute (1720-89), one of the founders of the esteemed Lepaute dynasty. Having settled in Paris at a young age he trained in the family workshop before opening his own business, probably in the early 1790s, at Place du Palais Royal.
Sometime after 1795 and up until 1811 he was in business with his uncle Pierre-Basile Lepaute, known as Sully-Lepaute (1750-1843) working under the name of Lepaute Oncle & Neveu. Together they enjoyed great repute, gaining influential clients and winning a silver medal at the Exposition des Produits de l'Industrie of 1806. In 1811 Jean-Joseph founded the House of Lepaute Neveu à Paris; two years later he created a clock for the Palais de Fontainebleau and about the same time ones for Saint-Cloud as well as Compiègne. Appointed Horloger du roi et de la chambre des deputes, by 1820 his business was based at rue de Richelieu and the following year at rue St-Honoré.
As a reflection of the clock's importance the dial was made by Etienne Gobin, known as Dubuisson (b. 1731 d. after 1815) who with Joseph Coteau (1740-1812) was one of the finest painters of highly ornamented dials and enamelled clocks during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Born in Lunéville, Dubuisson worked firstly as a porcelain painter in his hometown as well as in Strasbourg and Chantilly. Like Coteau, he was employed at Sèvres, where from 1756-9 he worked as a flower painter before specializing on his own account by supplying the finest enamelled watchcases and clock dials to the leading clockmakers of his day. In addition to Lepaute they included such celebrated names as Dieudonné Kinable, Jean-Simon Bourdier, Robert Robin and Louis Berthoud as well as Antide Janvier for whom he created a set of highly intricate painted dials for a very complex astronomical clock (illustrated in Jean-Dominique Augarde, "Les Ouvriers du Temps", 1996, p.107). During the 1790s Dubuisson was recorded in the rue de la Huchette and later in circa 1812 at rue de la Calandre as well as rue des Lavandières Sainte-Opportune.
THE HOUSE OF LEPAUTE. FRENCH FOUNDED IN 1748
BY JEAN-ANDRE LEPAUTE (1720-87/9)
AND JEAN-BAPTISTE LEPAUTE (1727-18021)
Since its foundation, die House of Lepaute has maintained the highest reputation among leading French clockmaking firms. Successive generations of the Lepaute family ran the business which enjoyed significant acclaim (luring the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries The firm tug an in 17-tS when Jean-Andre and his brother. Jean -Baptiste established a clock manufacturing business in Paris. They were appointed “Horlogers du Roi”, making a number of fine clocks for the Louvre, Paris. Jean-André also constructed several of Paris’s public clocks, one of which on the Ecole Royale Militaire is till working in order. He also made several technical advances in the field of horology. On his retirement, 1774 his brother, Jean-Baptiste tool his nephews, Pierre-Henry (1745 – 1806) and Pierre-Basile Lepaute (1750 – 1843) into partnership. Pierre-Henry retired in 1798where upon Pierre-Basile entered a partnership with his nephew, Jean-Joseph Lepaute (1768 – 1846). They were joined by Pierre-Basile’s son, Pierre-Michel (d. 1849), c. 1811, the firm was renamed Lepaute et Fils, established at prestigious premises at Place du Palais Royal, Paris.
Jean-Joseph Lepaute, born in Bieves, France was a major figure within the family firm. Like his great uncle and founder of the firm, he was a superb craftsman. He was appointed clockmaker to Napoléon. In 1813 he made a clock for the Palais de Fontainbleau; he constructed clocks for other important residences including the Château de St. Cloud and Château de Comilègne In addition he made many other fine home clocks In 1821 he was appointed official clockmaster to Paris, with special responsibility for the maintenance and repair of all the City’ s public clocks Toward the end of his career he worked in close association with another important member of the family firm Augustin-Michel- Henry Lepaute (1800-85).The son of Pierre-Henry. Augustin-Michel-Henry was appointed clockmaker to Louis-Philippe and Napoléon III. He made the clucks for the Palais de Justice. Paris and the Bourse, Marseilles Two of his regulators are in the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers. Paris while one of his gold watches can be seen al the Guildhall. London.
During the Eighteenth Century , French decorative clockmaking had reached its apigée, with neo-classical design prevailing during the 1750"s and until c.1830. During this period the house of Lepaute. created some distinguished pieces. An example of a Louis XVI regulator by Lepaute. C. 1770 is housed at Windsor Castle; the case was made by Nicolas Petit, and in reaction to the earlier exuberance of rococo design it is characterised by simplicity and symmetry. A later example of a Lepaute mantel clock, c. 1780 in the Wallace Collection. London displays winged sphinxes, in keeping with the taste for Egyptian decoration It stands in contrast to a Lepaute Directoire mantel regulator, signed Henry N(ev)eu de Lepaute a Paris, c 1790-5, which has extremely simple lines and little decoration. However as exemplary of all Lepaute time pieces, it has " a very well executed movement and dial". (F.J. Britten, Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers, 1911).
Copyright 2002 by Richard Redding Zürich All rights reserved!