Owned by the same European noble family since the nineteenth century.
Almost certainly made for and shown at the Seconde Exposition Publique des Produits de L'Industrie Française, held in the courtyard of the Louvre, Paris, 19th - 25th September 1801, at which François-Joseph Hartmann, horloger, rue de Vannes, no 9, à Paris gained an honourable mention for a clock of this description, noted as being "une pendule a huit cadrans, d'un travail soigne. Elle marque le lever, le coucher du soleil, les phases de la lune."
"Exposition Publique des Produits de l'Industrie Française, Catalogue des productions industrielles qui seront exposées dans la grande Cour du Louvre, pendant les cinq jours complémentaires de l'an 9; avec les noms, départements et demeures des Manufacturiers et Artistes admis à l'Exposition, Paris, Imprimerie de la République, Fructidor an IX", p. 23, noting: Hartmann, horloger, rue de Vannes, n° 9, à Paris: Pendule à huit cadrans. (Paris, Archives Nationales, F12, 985).
A unique and highly important Republican gilt bronze and polychrome enamel multi-dial automata clock conceived and made by François -Joseph Hartmann almost certainly for the Seconde Exposition Publique des Produits de L'Industrie Française, 1801, featuring eight superb enamel dials and signature plaque by the preeminent enamellist Joseph Coteau including full Republican and Gregorian calendars, age and phase of the moon, time of sunrise and sunset, equation of time, world time and signs of the zodiac. Signed and inscribed Hartmann Invenit Fecit à Paris in gold on a blue enamel plaque decorated with silvered bosses at each corner below the main dial and also stamped twice on the frontplate of the movement with the initials HM (almost certainly for Hartmann), also signed Coteau on the main dial below VI o'clock and likewise on the rear of the majority of the others and in several instances to include the year date 'an 8' (between 22nd September 1799-21st September 1800 according to the Republican calendar).
The main dial (13.5 cm in diameter) decorated with twelve polychrome reserves depicting signs of the zodiac within gilt and jewelled borders, the zodiac ring encompassing an annual Gregorian date ring, the minute ring comprised of gilt dots and Arabic five minute numerals, the Roman hours and an inner quarter hour track. The main dial with five hands comprising a blued steel calendar hand with an eccentric moon tip denoting the date, a blued steel centre seconds hand, a gilt and engraved brass hour hand, a gilt and engraved brass minute hand for solar time and a pierced blued steel hand for mean time, with an open centre showing the wheels of five-star crossings. The three uppermost dials showing the Republican calendar including the seasons (Printems, Ete, Automne and Hiver) and months (Germinal, Floreal, Prairal, Messidor, Thermidor, Fructidor, Vendemiaire, Brumaire, Frimaire, Nivose, Pluviose, Ventose) above the days of the week (Primidi, Duodi, Tridi, Quartidi, Quintidi, Sextidi, Septidi, Octidi, Nonidi and Decadi) and 30 days of the month. To the lower left of the main dial is a lunar dial entitled Croissan Decroissant de la Lune decorated with gilt scrolls showing the moon with its peaks and troughs set against a deep blue night-sky set with 103 gilt stars. Opposite the moon dial is the dial for time of sunrise and sunset, entitled Lever et Coucher du Soleil featuring a gilded sun against a sky blue background and an outer Roman hour scale from IIII to XII and back to VIII, centred by a globe depicting the North and South Poles, Europe, Africa and Australia (known as New Holland until 1824), with lines of latitude and longitude clearly marked, the enamelled shutters coloured from yellow to pink at their tips to indicate the time of the sunrise and sunset. The lower left hand dial showing an outer scale of 1-30 enclosing the days and signs of the planet of the day. The lower right hand dial encompassed by a twice I-XII scale is marked with 53 places around the world including those inscribed San Salvador, Quebec, Mexico, Pekin, Siam, Goa, Bagdad, Moskou, Constantinople, Rome and Paris (marked more distinctly in red capitals).
The movement consisting of a near circular backplate (6 ins in diameter) carrying the two main spring barrels with off-set winding, the countwheel and escapement also both set to the backplate, the outside countwheel with elaborate star wheel crossings, with a unique type of pin wheel escapement that allows the pendulum to remain free from the escape wheel for most of its travel, receiving impulse on only one side, both impulse pallet and locking detent are constructed of highly polished facetted steel for exhibition purposes, the ingenious escapement beats dead centre seconds on the dial with the half second bimetallic pendulum mounted on a knife edge suspension and set with micrometer regulation to the crutch, terminating in a heavy brass bob, the frontplate of the movement of substantial brass casting and following the outline of the dials carries the intricate motionwork necessary to drive each of the eight dials and also to support the vertical arbor with universal joints to the polished steel whirlygig and the twin fountains.
The automata columns powered by a separate movement mounted in the base of the clock; the heavy brass plates carrying a spring driven movement wound from the right hand side via a bevelled gear - a hole in the glazed cover allows for this when the cover is in situ, the automata movement is activated once an hour or at will. The elaborate case surmounted by a gilt bronze figure of Victory blowing a trumpet seated on clouds that surround the upper dial with all dials interspersed by draped fruit and foliage backed by a pair of pedestals headed by berried finials and flanked by a pair of columns (each 44 cm in height) and constructed of two pierced spirally twisted columns set around a giltwood core and terminating in a pair of matching spheres with bud finials, the columns driven by a movement set within the base of the clock with each column contra-rotating by depressing a vertical lever mounted in the gilt bronze base of the clock in which the pushing of the lever simultaneously activates a central highly polished steel whirlygig with circular mirrored glass background which is set just above a twin-headed fountain with winged leopard heads mounted with spirally twisted steel rods to mimic the effect of water running into a gilt bronze trough. The whole mounted on a rectangular base with bow-shaped reeded ends set with a central palmetted frieze flanked by ribbon-tied martial wreaths on six turned feet. The central panel is sprung, which on pulling a lever in the base hinges forward to reveal the spring-barrel movement for the automata work. Mounted on a substantial oak carcass baseboard veneered with mahogany with a flat front and bow ends supported on squat ball feet, set to the underside with a well-made facetted sprung steel shaft and cone terminal to set the automata work to play by means of a handle that activates a lever and in turn the columns, whirlygig and fountain. The slightly later panelled glass dome, composed of thirteen glazed sections surmounted by an elaborate gilt brass urn finial upon a brass plate, with two holes cut into the front and one to the right hand side to allow for the winding of the going train, the striking train and the automata train, with a cut recess on the baseboard which has been widened to accept the unusual shape of the glass cover
Paris, dated between 22nd September 1799 and 21st September 1800
Height of the clock 75cm. Height to include the glazed case and mahogany baseboard 99cm.
A tour de force, this exceptional multi-dial clock by François-Joseph Hartmann (fl. 1793-1830) is of supreme historical importance combining scientific complexity and aesthetic beauty. Not only does it feature the finest enamel work by Joseph Coteau (1740-1812), one of history's finest dial painters and includes rare automata work but it also has both Republican and Gregorian dials and others that indicate the age and phase of the moon, time of sunrise and sunset, equation of time, world time and signs of the zodiac. Furthermore it is considered that it was shown at the Exposition Publique des Produits de L'Industrie Française in Paris September 1801. Evidence to support this is given firstly by the dials, some of which bear the date 'an 8', coinciding with the year 1801 in which the exhibition was held and secondly the fact that Hartmann gained an honourable mention at that exhibition for a clock of this description, showing the rising and setting of the sun and the moon phase (see notes above under: Exhibited). The exhibition was held in the grand courtyard in front of the Louvre where exhibitors showcased their products in one of the 104 portiques or booths, of which Hartmann occupied portique no. 63. The exhibition was of great significance following in the wake of the first Exposition Publique des Produits de l'Industrie Française in 1798. Instigated by Napoleon Bonaparte, its aim was to inspire the burgeoning French industries so that they might surpass other nations, in particular the English.
The first public solicitation for entries stated that "Our manufactures are arsenals most fatal to the power of the British." As well as encouraging innovation and commercial acumen, it embraced political ideals and was therefore open to all members of French society to submit applications. On November 13th 1800, Jean Chaptal, Minister of the Interior wrote to the three Consuls, Napoleon, Sieyes and Le Brun "The continental peace is assured, Citizen Consuls, and you must surely conclude that, in the interest of art, we should hold another Exposition during the new year's week of Year IX" (cited in Philippe Bouin and Christian-Philippe Chanut, "Histoire Française des Foires et des Expositions Universelles", 1980, p. 26). Prizes were awarded to a range of exhibits at the 1801 show including those for a canal lock mechanism, saws and leather goods. It is recorded that Napoleon, Sieyes and Le Brun each visited the exhibition and thus without doubt Hartmann would have set his clock to perform for them. At the time of the exhibition Hartmann (sometimes referred to as Hartemann) was recorded at rue de Vannes no. 9, Paris though according to notary documents we learn that on vendémiaire 27, an II (October 18th, 1793) he rented an apartment including a shop at the corner of the rue des Viarmes (surrounding the recently built Halle aux Blés by the architect Le Camus de Mézières) for 6 ½ years. At some stage after marrying Marie-Louise Guitarde he settled on the rue Saint-Eustache (n° 54) and then on 23rd July 1814 purchased a residence named the Hôtel d'Italie, in the same street, together with its furniture, for a total price of 9500 francs. (Paris, Archives nationales, minutier central, IV, 1033). Tardy also records that from 1810-30 he worked from rue Tiquetonne. By that period Hartmann had gained such acclaim, possibly on the strength of this clock, that he had been appointed Horloger-Mécanicien pour l'Observatoire et la Marine. Although little is recorded of Hartmann and few clocks by him have come to light those that are known are of great quality, counting among them a Louis XVI drum clock mounted on a gilt bronze horse, a white marble and gilt bronze portico clock with moonphase, Republican calendar and decimal dial as well as an Empire gilt bronze clock with five dials indicating moonphase, the hours, minutes, days and months as well as world time (respectively illustrated in Pierre Kjellberg, "Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle", 1997, pp. 281, 328 and 400).
To ensure that his clock was the best of its type and as a reflection of Hartmann's standing he used dials by the leading enamel painter Joseph Coteau. A man of great artistic genius, Coteau originated from Geneva but worked primarily in Paris, where he was established in rue Poupé, St. André des Arts and was received as a maître in 1778. In 1780 he was appointed Peintre-émailleur du roi et de la Manufacture Royale de Sèvres Porcelain and for the next four years did piece-work there while also working independently in Paris as a flower painter, specializing in enamelling watchcases and clock dials. By 1784 he had fallen out with Sèvres and thereafter worked as an independent enamellist supplying the very finest dials, plaques and even fully decorated enamel cases to the leading clockmakers including Robert Robin and Ferdinand Berthoud, both horlogers du roi. Whilst at Sèvres he discovered the art of jewelled enamelling (a technique that involved enamelled gold-leaf foils) to both soft and hard paste porcelain. Coteau also experimented with various polychromes, producing a blue, such as we see here, that was so rare and difficult to perfect that few of his contemporaries managed to copy.
As a reflection of France's allegiance to the Republican time system the clock shows both the Revolutionary and traditional Gregorian systems. The new decimal Republican time system which was introduced in 1793 became compulsory the following year; it stipulated that the months should be divided into 30 rather than 31 days, the days into ten hours and hours into 100 minutes. This however proved so complicated that it was it was abandoned in favour of the former Gregorian system during the rise of Napoleon and the establishment of the Empire. Another even rarer aspect of the Revolutionary time system is shown on the dial featuring the months of the year, which as can be seen were renamed according to the prevailing conditions, such as the grape harvest, foggy, snowy and frosty. This was ridiculed especially by the British who referred to the months as wheezy, sneezy, breezy; slippy, drippy and nippy; showery, flowery and bowery; and wheaty, heaty and sweety. The French did not favour this categorisation either and by 1806, 13 years after its introduction, it was finally abandoned. The clock can be enjoyed both with and without its glazed cover, which was almost certainly made for special order by its first owner, soon after the clock's completion. The quality of the clock, its makers as well as its exhibition history is enough to confirm its historical importance. Yet in addition to this it has a fascinating and important provenance, having been owned by the same European noble family since the nineteenth century.
For many reasons their identity cannot be disclosed yet we know that for at least the past century the clock has been housed in the family's European town palace, carefully stored in a cupboard set into the panelling in a once glittering ballroom. Current members of the family cannot recall exactly when the clock came into their possession though they cite two probabilities. Firstly that it was acquired at the exposition of 1801 or soon after by one of their ancestors, namely a French General, who was almost certainly in the service of Napoleon's army, and whose son then married into the family during the mid nineteenth century. Certainly the clock, crowned by Victory, featuring leopard heads, martial trophy panels and showing so many time variants would have appealed to both Napoleon and one of his commanding officers. The second theory is that it was purchased slightly later during the nineteenth century by one of the family who were commercially very successful and keen to acquire works of distinction to decorate their various residences. One of the best places to obtain such an object would have been from one of the Parisian antique shops. Although the exact details of how and when the clock came into the family's possession is unrecorded what is certain is that very few works of this quality have remained in one family for so long. Moreover because it has been owned by them for nearly two hundred years and for the past century has been carefully preserved in one of the family's palaces it has remained in almost perfect original condition. Such a find is a unique opportunity for a discerning collector of rare and beautiful objects.