Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 381, pl. 5.15.25, illustrating an identical Deverberie case signed on the dial Gaulin à Paris. Tardy, “Les Plus Belles Pendules Françaises”, 1994, pp. 246-7, illustrating Deverberie’s original drawing for the model in the Bibliothèque National and three other identical cases.Elke Niehüser, “Die Französische Bronzeuhr”, 1997, p. 146, pl. 236, showing an identical case with dial signed Ridel à Paris. Pierre Kjellberg, “Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle”, 1997, p. 351, featuring an identical clock with dial signed Thiéry à Paris.
A superb Empire gilt and patinated bronze Pendule ‘À L’Afrique’ of eight day duration signed on the white enamel dial Armingaud L’né a Paris, the dial with Roman numerals and a fine pair of pierced gilt brass hands for the hours and minutes. The movement with anchor escapement, silk thread suspension, striking on the hour and half hour on a single bell, with outside count wheel. The magnificent drum-shaped case attributed to Jean-Simon Deverberie’s (1764-1824) surmounted by a seated figure of a half-draped huntress with bow in her left hand and arrow in her right and quiver of arrows on her back, seated below to the left is a panther while her feet rest on a turtle, the whole on a waisted base, mounted either side with serpent-tied floral garlands and relief cast amorini to the front, above a beaded border on toupie feet
Paris, date circa 1806
Height 46 cm, width 37 cm, depth 15,5 cm.
Jean-Simon Deverberie’s (1764-1824) original drawing for the L’Afrique of 1799 is included in his album of clock designs now housed in the Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque National, Paris. It was one of a number of ingenious designs on the theme of le bon sauvage, as was its equally renowned pendant L’Amèrique, portraying a Negress with an alligator at her feet. Both models were produced from 1799 and continued in popularity up until about 1815. Since we know that by 1800 Deverberie was established at rue Barbette and only remained there until 1804, the present clock can be accepted as one of the earliest of such clock models. Deverberie, who also acted as a marchand-mercier, moved from rue Barbette in 1804 to Boulevard du Temple, while between 1812 until 1824 his bronze manufacturing business Deverberie & Compagnie was based at rue des Fosse du Temple.
Deverberie was undoubtedly one of, if not the finest bronze manufacturer to produce clocks on a similar theme, the first being La Négress, which was delivered by Furet and Godon to Louis XVI’s wife, Marie-Antoinette in 1784. Identical models of this wonderful clock, representing the personification of Africa, can be found among such prestigious collections as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris and the Musée Duesberg at Mons (one with movement by Ridel, the other by Bonnet). Other examples are signed on the dial by clockmakers Dubuc l’Aîné, Sirost, Thonissen and Ribot à Montélimar.
The overall design reflects the late eighteenth century interest in le bon sauvage, culminating in the abolition of slavery in 1793. This concept was aired by Rousseau, whose ‘Discourse on the Origin of Inequality’, 1754 proposed that beauty and innocence of nature was extended from plants and trees. In 1767 the French explorer Bougainville arrived in Tahiti followed by Captain Cook in 1769. After hearing of the happy and harmonious life of the South Sea islanders, even the brightest wits of London and Paris began to question their own corrupt European society in relation to the innocence of the native islanders. The notion of le bon sauvage also inspired some of the greatest literary works of the period including Daniel Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’ (1719), Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ (1724), as well ‘Paul et Virginie’ (1787) by B. de Saint-Pierre and ‘Atala’ (1801) by Vicomte de Chateaubriand.