Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 381, pl. 5.15.28, illustrating Deverberie’s original design for the case, in the Bibliothèque National, Paris. Tardy, “Les Plus Belles Pendules Françaises”, 1994, p. 212, illustrating a clock with movement by Armingaud l’aîné with case of very similar design but with a splayed ovoid base in the Musée Paul Dupuy, Toulouse. Madeleine Deschamps, “Empire”, 1994, p. 177, illustrating a clock of a similar model with dial signed Gilbert à Paris in the Musée du Nouveau Monde, La Rochelle. Elke Niehüser, “Die Französische Bronzeuhr”, 1997, back cover illustrating an identical clock except for minute variations in the pendulum decoration, the rectangular marble base also differs and the alligator is patinated rather than gilt bronze; p. 147, pls. 237-8, showing a very similar case with splayed base with dial unsigned; p. 148, pl. 239 illustrating a clock in the Musée François-Duesberg at Mons in Belgium, which is also of similar design but with miniature sphinxes supporting the ovoid base and p. 237, pl. 809, illustrating an identical clock. Pierre Kjellberg, “Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle”, 1997, p. 352, pl. A, illustrating a clock with dial unsigned housed in an identical case except, for minor variations such as its sunburst pendulum, beaded bezel and beaded border around the plinth and that it has a gilt bronze base cast with a putti frieze; and p. 352, pl. B, illustrating a clock with movement by Persevalle à Reims with case of very similar design but with a splayed ovoid base in the Musée François-Duesberg, Mons and p. 353, pl. C, featuring another clock in the Musée François-Duesberg and again of similar design but with miniature sphinxes supporting the ovoid base. Charlotte Vignon, “Deverberie & Cie: Drawings, Models, and Works in Bronze”, in “Cleveland Studies in the History of Art”, vol. 8, 2003, p. 176, pl. 3, illustrating a design by Jean-Simon Deverberie of 1798-99, in the Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, for a clock case of almost identical design to include the arched plinth, lion paw feet and marble base but instead of the personification of America there is a vase of flowers with abundant sprays as well as additional sheaves of wheat and acanthus scrolls issuing from the sides of the plinth; and p. 182-183, pls. 8a-b, illustrating a pair of Deverberie chenets in the Cleveland Museum of Art that are surmounted by female figures seated upon a plinth with lion paw feet of almost identical form as here.
A rare and extremely fine Directoire gilt and patinated bronze and white marble Pendule ‘À L’Amèrique’ of eight day duration signed on the white enamel dial Mottet Crétien à Troyes housed in a magnificent case attributed to Jean-Simon Deverberie, the dial with Arabic 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 surmounted by a seated figure of a half-draped native American Indian with white enamel eyes wearing a feathered headdress and matching skirt, a beaded necklace and arm bands and simpler bands around her wrists, chest and ankles, holding a bow in her right hand, a spear in her left and quiver of arrows across her back, seated beside a palm tree to the right and an alligator at her feet, the whole on a shaped arched plinth mounted with exotic foliage within a laurel leaf border, hanging between the arch an ornate pierced gilded pendulum portraying nude Bacchantes with grapes and ewers at centre within a ring of vine leaves and surmounted by a pair of butterflies, the whole supported on four hairy lion paw feet resting on a white marble base on toupie feet
Paris, date circa 1800
Height 60 cm, width 42 cm, depth 12 cm.
This wonderful clock, representing the personification of America, with its arched-shaped plinth resting on hairy lion paw feet and plain rectangular marble base is very rare since most clock cases by Jean-Simon Deverberie’s (1764-1824), showing allegories of Africa or as here of America have a splayed ovoid-shaped base mounted with serpent-tied garlands and sometimes also a frieze of putti on the front. What is of particular interest is that the shape and the ornamentation of the plinth directly corresponds to one of Deverberie’s pen and ink design of 1798-99 (now housed in the Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris) for another clock surmounted by a bouquet of flowers in a vase instead of the present figure, which is signed and inscribed “No. 8 De Verberie/Du trois pluvois an Sept”. Furthermore, a pair of Deverberie chenets, each surmounted by a young woman and originally a leaping greyhound, dating from 1790-1800 and now in the Cleveland Museum of Arts feature the same arched plinth supported on hairy lion paw feet but lacking the marble base.
Among other rare examples of this model is a clock signed on the dial Aubineau à Strasbourg (Christie’s New York, 18th May 1989, lot 33). Other almost identical models but with splayed bases include one with movement by Armingault l’aîné in the Musée Paul Dupuis at Toulouse, another signed on the dial: ‘Invenit et fecit Deverberie rue Barbet à Paris’ in the Musée Duesberg at Mons in Belgium as well as one signed Gilbert à Paris in the Musée du Nouveau Monde, La Rochelle. Further examples have movements by the Parisian makers Geil, Brun as well as Deglanne of rue Ste Marguerite while other dials are signed on the dial: Isabel à Rouen; alternatively, they were signed with Deverberie’s name or were left unmarked.
Deverberie’s pendules à l’Amèrique and Afrique epitomise a fashion that began during the second half of the eighteenth century, for a sentimental exoticism that enhanced the virtues of the pastoral life. It was a trend advocated by the philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau and encapsulated the notion of the le bon sauvage whose happy and harmonious life was considered by Europeans to be an ideal to aspire to. This notion was conveyed in the novels of the time by Bernardin de St. Pierre’s Paul et Virginie (1787) and Chateaubriand’s Atala (1801) and also inspired both the fine and decorative arts, in particular a number of innovative clock cases au Nègre (with African figures) or as here aux Indiens (with Native American figures). Deverberie along with Jean-André Reiche (1752-1817) was the most important maker of these clock cases and furthermore it was Deverberie’s introduction of the pendule au Nègre that established his repute. The first of his clock cases along this theme was La Négress, which was delivered by Furet and Godon to Louis XVI’s wife, Marie-Antoinette in 1784.
However, his most famous are his pendules l’Afrique’ and l'Amèrique representing exotic, untamed worlds which, largely unexplored at the time, fascinated and frightened Europeans. Perceived as places untainted by civilization, these two continents seemed to embody a new mythic Golden Age.
Although the exact date of when Deverberie became a maître bronzier is unrecorded, we know that he was working as a caster in 1788 and that he married Marie Louise Verron but they had no children. An article by Charlotte Vignon from Cleveland Museum of Art notes that he may have been the same Deverberie who specialised as a watchcase maker and that after the abolition of the guilds in 1791, he opened a bronze casting and clock factory with Jean George Hertzog. Having been established at rue Barbet, Deverberie then moved to rue des Fossés du Temple where he ran the firm of Deverberie et Cie. The lifting of the guild regulations during the French Revolution allowed casters, who during the ancient règime were strictly limited to working in bronze, to now develop factories of their own. Deverberie was one such man who took advantage of this freedom so that now all stages of the bronze making process, from casting, gilding, assembly and retail could occur in one workshop. In this he proved highly successful since by 1803 his business was worth 104,000 francs.
Deverberie et Cie made a range of luxury bronze objects from chenets and fire grates to candelabra and chandeliers. However, clock cases were the firm’s speciality. A large variety of clockmakers supplied the movements including the Imperial clockmakers Henri Lepaute and Lépine as well as Lemoine, Marc Sandoz and Dubuc (Dubucq). At times Deverberie contracted part of the gilding to Jean Claude Herouard, Jean-Jacques Dubois and others and also bought in glass globe covers for his clock cases from the famous glass blower Jean-Baptiste Binet as well as marble from Gilles l’ainé. In contrast to a number of other major bronziers, Deverberie did not supply the Garde-Meuble direct though he may have done so through as intermediary. Rather he tended to supply private clientele and also sold his cases elsewhere in Europe, hence one has the name of Christophe Noseda à Marsailles on the dial; another pendule d’Amèrique features the name of Aubineau of Strasbourg while here the dial is signed Mottet Crétien à Troyes, whose name is also spelled Mottet Chrétian à Paris on other figural clocks. Other Deverberie cases were sent to Brest or further afield to Moscow and for the Turkish export market.
Deverberie was also keen to exhibit his bronzes throughout Europe. For instance, in 1802 he sent goods worth 40,000 francs to the Leipzig fair – a move that may have been suggested by his fellow bronzier Jean-André Reiche who had originated from Leipzig and like Deverberie was the main and finest maker of pendules au Nègre.