Vitale & Vitale, "The Carriage Clock: 200 Years of Timely Allure", 1994, p. 3, illustrating another very similar early travelling clock indicating both the day and the date on the white enamel dial and signed Duval à Rouen.
An extremely rare and very beautiful Louis XVI gilt bronze travelling clock of fourteen day duration, signed on the white enamel dial Duval Fecit and on the backplate Duval à Roüen, the dial with rare asymmetrical winding holes, black Roman and Arabic numerals for the hours and minutes and outer red names of the months and the corresponding numbers of days in each as well as inner red numbers 1-31 for the days of the month and symbols for the days of the week, with a very fine pair of pierced gilt brass hands for the hours and minutes and blued steel pointers for the alarm and calendar indications, above the main dial an arched shaped aperture for the lunar dial with a beautifully engraved moon set against a gold star studded dark blue sky. The spring driven movement with verge escapement, striking on the quarters on two bells.
The case with glazed sides and back exquisitely engraved overall to include the top, the back of the arched moon phase dial and back with scrolling motifs and foliate sprays, the top surmounted by a handle above the bell and toupie finials at each corner supported on corresponding toupie feet
Rouen, date circa 1775
Height with handle 25 cm.
This very rare and early travelling clock is one of only a few to not only show the hours, minutes and seconds but also the calendar indications complete with symbols for the days of the week, the names, days and date of the month as well as the varying phases of the moon as it waxes and wanes. While the majority of very early travelling clocks known as pendules d'officier were intended for use by army officers, this clock was very likely to have been intended for use by an astronomer or a wealthy patron with a passion for the sciences.
In many respects it can be compared with an astronomer's portable clock made in 1795 by Ferdinand Berthoud (illustrated in Charles Allix, "Carriage Clocks, their History and Development", 1974, p. 19, pl. 1/23) though stylistically it compares more closely with other French pre-pendules de voyages, which appeared from about 1775 such as one by Jean-Baptiste Du Tertre à Paris, which as here is arched at the top of the case to hide the surmounting bell and likewise is beautifully engraved overall as well as having glazed sides and back (illustrated in Allix, op. cit. p. 21, pl. 1/26).
The maker of this exquisite piece, Duval à Rouen, as signed on the backplate is almost certainly Frédéric Duval, whose signature: Fred Duval appears on two watches in the Musée des Arts et Décoratifs, Paris (illustrated in Tardy, "Dictionnaire des Horlogers Français", ed 1971 p. 213). Tardy also notes a clock signed and dated Duval à Rouen 1773 as indicating 'les 12 mois de l'année, l'équation de 10 en 10 jours, seconds au centre, au dos les quantièmes, les phases de lune'.
Given that we know that Frédéric Duval was working in Rouen in 1773 to at least 1775 and was an outstanding maker, it is very likely that he was the same as Frédéric Duval (died after 1783) who was later working in Paris. We know that the latter named worked in Paris as compagnon to François Béliard (1723-95) and then as an ouvrier libre before being incorporated into the Parisian clockmakers guild in 1777. By the following year he was based at rue Mazarine and then in 1781 at rue Jacob. One of Duval's most important patrons was the duc de Choiseul, while today one can find one of his clocks in the Musée du Louvre Paris. He is recorded as having used cases made by Osmond, including an important earlier Louis XV period case featuring 'The Rape of Europa' (illustrated in Pierre Kjellberg, "Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle", 1997, p 133). Duval also used clock cases by Joseph de Saint-Germain, François Duhamel, Nicolas Bonnet, Michel Poisson and René-François Morlay.