Philippe-Gérard Chabert, "La pendule au 'Nègre': Saint-Omer, Musée de l'Hôtel Sandelin, exhibition catalogue, 1977, no. 21, for a clock of the same model but with no dial signature. Elke Niehüser, "Die Französische Bronzeuhr", 1997, p. 161, pl. 262, showing an almost identical clock with matching candelabra in the Musée François Duesberg at Mons. Béatrice Mura, "Les Pendules au Nègre à l'Heure de Deverberie" in "L'Estampille-l'Objet d'Art", no. 241, November 1990, pp. 44-45, in relation to a comparable clock in the Musée François Duesberg. Pierre Kjellberg, "Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle", 1997, p. 348, pl. A, illustrating an almost identical clock by Deverberie et Compagnie but without the quiver and arm bands. Charlotte Vignon, "Deverberie & Cie: Drawings, Models, and Works in Bronze", in "Cleveland Studies in the History of Art", vol. 8, 2003, p. 171, pl. 1.8 illustrating an engraving of a clock of the same model as featured in the sale catalogue of the Deverberie Company factory, published circa 1800, inscribed on the engraving as measuring Hauteur 26 Pce. Largeur 7 Pce. Deamettre, now in the Bibliothèque Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art (INHA), Paris and described by Vignon as 'Clock with a black youth'. And p. 172, pl. 1.12, illustrating a portico clock from the same sale catalogue, showing the clock drum being supported by two similar negro youths who also balance a vase on their heads. And p. 186, listing and describing other clocks of the same model as here.
A very fine Directoire gilt and patinated bronze pendule 'Au Jeune Nègre' of eight day duration by Schmit à Paris housed in a superb case attributed to Jean-Simon Deverberie, signed on the white enamel dial Schmit à Paris. The dial with outer Arabic minute chapter ring marked 15/30/45 and 60 and inner ring for the hours, divided by a blue enamelled ring painted with gilt floral and foliate motifs, with a very fine pair of gilt brass hands for the hours and minutes. The movement with anchor escapement and silk thread suspension, striking on the hour and half hour on a single bell, with outside count wheel. The beautiful case composed of the beaded clock drum set upon a tasselled cushion supported on the head and resting in the raised hands of a patinated bronze figure of a young African boy with white enamel eyes wearing a double row of gilt beads around his neck, arm bands, a gilt quiver of arrows slung across his back and a gilt tasselled loin cloth, standing on a circular splayed patinated base ornamented with beaded borders and gilt foliate garlands suspended from satyr mask heads, on three lion paw feet
Height 45 cm, width 19 cm.
Paris, date circa 1800
This superb clock is almost identical to another simply signed 'A Paris' housed in a case by Jean-Simon Deverberie (1764-1824) which is in the Musée François Duesberg at Mons in Belgium. Other near identical examples include one formerly in the Fermor-Hesketh Collection, 1988, another exhibited in 1991 at the Queen's Gallery Buckingham Palace, London as well as one signed on the dial Deverberie & C.nie Rue Des Fosses Du Temple, No. 47 à Paris, which was previously owned by this gallery.
The design for this extremely fine clock was created in circa 1799 by Jean-Simon Deverberie who enjoyed great success as a designer and bronze manufacturer. Although Deverberie specialised in the production of clock cases and was, with Jean-André Reiche (1752-1817), the most famous maker of pendules au sauvage, he also produced an array of other luxury bronzes from candelabra and chandeliers to chenets and fire grates. When exactly he became a maître bronzier is unknown, though we do know that he was working as a caster in 1788 and that he married Marie Louise Verron but had no children. An article by Charlotte Vignon from the 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 in Paris, 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 their own factories. 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 so successful that by 1803 his business was worth 104,000 francs. In contrast to a number of other major bronziers, Deverberie did not directly supply theGarde-Meuble though he may have done so through an intermediary. Rather he tended to supply private clientele and also sold his clocks and presumably other bronzes elsewhere in France as well as Germany, Moscow and for the Turkish export market.
Deverberie was one of the most important artists of his time and also one of the first to make a clock case celebrating the theme of le bon sauvage. This ideal was itself encouraged by views of equality as proposed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and others and culminated in the abolition of slavery by the Convention in 1793. Interest in le bon sauvage continued throughout the Empire period despite Napoleon's reintroduction in 1802 of slavery and the slave trade. Writers and artists alike were inspired to address the notion ofle bon sauvage, as expressed in Paul et Virginie (1787) by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre and Atala (1801) by Vicomte de Chateaubriand, which like Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719) or Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1724) encapsulated Europe's fascination with the exotic and unadulterated world of faraway lands.
The present design, dating from about 1799, corresponds in date with a pendule au sauvage by Deverberie known as l'Amèrique, of which there is an example in the Musée Duesberg at Mons in Belgium. The latter features a female figure beside a palm seated upon an alligator above the clock drum. Other celebrated Deverberie models on the same theme include his pendule à l'Afrique, featuring a half-draped huntress seated beside a panther as well as his pendule à l'Indien et l'Indienne Enlacé in which a young American hunter and huntress are shown in deep embrace.
Not only is the present case of singular merit but also the white enamel dial is most beautifully executed to include an ornate blue and gilt painted enamel ring as well as the individual borders surrounding the signature: Schmit à Paris. That name refers to the Parisian clockmaker Jean-Nicolas Schmit (or Schmidt; d. circa 1820), who was received as a maître-horloger in August 1781. The following year his business was established at rue Bétizy; in 1783 he was recorded at rue Coquillère and then in 1789 at rue du Coq Saint-Honoré, after which and from 1800 until 1810, the firm of Schmit à Paris operated from rue Martin. Schmit's name also frequently appears on dials housed in biscuit porcelain cases, especially those by the d'Angoulême factory. G. H. Baillie, in "Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World", reprinted 1993, p. 285 also notes a mantle clock by Schmit in the Château de Compiègne.