James Parker, "Decorative Art from the Samuel H. Kress Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art", 1964, no. 65, pp. 268-272, illustrating on p. 269 a Pendule à la Negresse also identically signed on an enamel plaque and featuring an identical plinth and base complete with the figures of the two seated putti but supporting the head of a Negress. Cedric Jagger, "Royal Clocks", 1983, p. 162, illustrating a Pendule à la Negresse by Jean-Antoine Lépine Horloger du Roi, with an identical base as here, in the British Royal Collection. Anne Odom and Liana Paredes Arend, "A Taste for Splendor, Russian Imperial and European Treasures from the Hillwood Museum", 1998, no. 85, illustrating a Pendule à la Negresse with an identical base, from the collection of Marjorie Merriwether Post in the Hillwood Museum, Washington, D.C.
A rare Louis XVI gilt bronze and Sèvres porcelain pendule à cercles tournant, signed on a blue enamel plaque attached to the base Furet Hger du Roi, the Roman hour and five minute interval Arabic minute indications shown on lozenge-shaped white enamel plaques set within revolving rings around the body of a bleu Sèvres ovoid body, surmounted by a gilt bronze mounted pomegranate finial above serpentine handles, bearded male mask heads and flower filled cornucopias above a stiff leaf band and a gadroon headed foot on a stepped foliate and wreath banded base, set upon a breakfronted plinth supporting a pair of seated winged putti and centred by a plaque cast with playful putti, upon a gilt bronze mounted stepped white and black marble base on turned feet
Paris, date circa 1785
Height 73.5 cm, width 40 cm.
The breakfronted base of the present clock, which was probably intended to house a musical movement, is identical to those made for a series of famous Pendules à la Negresse. The first of those was made by the eminent Parisian clockmaker Jean-Baptiste-André Furet (b. circa 1720 d. 1807), Horloger Ordinaire du Roi pour sa Bibliothèque, who collaborated with the clockmaker and dealer François-Louis Godon to deliver a Pendule à la Negresse to Marie Antoinette at the Château de Versailles. In turn the Queen gave it to the Dauphin, the future Louis XVII in 1791.
Born in Paris, Jean-Baptiste-André Furet came from a long dynasty of master clockmakers that included his father Jean-André Furet (b. circa 1690 d. circa 1778) who worked for the court of Augustus II of Saxony. Jean-Baptiste-André was received as a maître-horloger in November 1746 and by the following year was established at rue Saint-Honoré, where he worked with his father and whose business he continued. In about 1784 Furet entered a de facto association with François-Antoine Godon, as evidenced by the signature 'Furet & Godon' marked on movements dated 1785 as well as invoices drawn up in their joint names. However in 1786 Furet declared bankruptcy. At that stage he had a very impressive stock that included 98 clocks collectively valued at 63,903 livres, among which was another Pendule à la Negresse. The long list of creditors not only suggests that he subcontracted a large proportion of his work but also helps identify a number of his suppliers. Among them were the fondeurs Edme Roy, Luc-Philippe Thomire and François Vion; the ébénistes J. B. Grand, known as Legrand and S. L. Vandernasse; the eminent enamellist Joseph Coteau as well as C. F. Loire; the engravers J. F. Cassin and J. B. Hoguet, the spring maker Richard and the sculptors Joseph and Ignace Broche.
Today one can find examples of Furet's work in the Musées du Louvre, Jacquemart-André at Chaalis and de Municipal at Besançon, des Beaux-Arts at Saint-Omer as well as Waddesdon Manor, Oxfordshire and the Patrimonio Nacional in Madrid.