An exceptional Louis XV gilt bronze and Blanc de Chine mantel clock of eight day duration signed on the white enamel dial and on the movement Gudin Le Jeune à Paris, the dial with blue Roman and Arabic numerals and a very 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.The beautiful case with dial suspended within gilt bronze foliate branches covered with a mass of white porcelain flowers and continuing below the dial as a backdrop for the standing female and seated male Blanc de Chine figurines, on a pierced rocaille and foliate C-scrolled base
The gilt bronze: Paris;
the figurines: Dehua China;
the porcelain flowers: probably Vincennes, date circa 1740-50
Height 46 cm, width 30 cm, depth 22 cm.
The movement was made by the eminent Parisian clockmaker Paul Gudin (b. after 1706 d. circa 1755). As we see here he signed his clocks Gudin Le Jeune so as to distinguish himself from his older brother Jacques Gudin (1706-43), who was also a distinguished Parisian clockmaker. Both brothers were both born at Saint-Cyr-en-Bourgogne, the sons of a Claude Gudin a Burgundy merchant. Gudin Le Jeune worked first as an ouvrier libre until 1739, when on the resignation of Charles Le Bon, he acquired a royal patent permitting him to work under the title of Marchand Horloger Privilégié du Roi suivant la Cour et Conseils de Sa Majesté (privileged merchant clockmaker attendant upon the Court and Counsels of His Majesty). He continued working under this licence until December 1755 when he gave it up in favour of François Dufour. In 1741 Gudin Le Jeune was established at Quai des Morfondus. Three years later he was working at Quai des Orfèvres, from the same premises where his sister-in-law Henriette Lenoir so successfully continued her husband Jacques Gudin's workshop after the latter's death in 1743. The leased property at Quai des Orfèvres in the parish of Saint-Barthélemy included a basement, a shop on the ground floor, a small room on the a mezzanine, two rooms on the second floor and three on the two upper floors as well as an attic.
From this relatively large and busy workshop Gudin produced extremely fine quality movements. The majority were destined for gilt bronze rather than veneered cases, most of which were decorated with animal and human figures made from either Chinese or European porcelain. Among them was another exceptional gilt bronze mounted mantle clock of circa 1750, decorated with Meissen figures and Vincennes porcelain flowers, now in the Metropolitan Museum New York. Other similar cases housing movements by Gudin Le Jeune include one with the dial within a floral arbour above Meissen porcelain figures 'La Tasse de Chocolat' modelled by J. J. Kaendler (illustrated in Pierre Kjellberg, "Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle", 1997, p. 139, pl. F).
Those who enjoyed Gudin's productions included the prince de Bauffremont, the marquis de Berville, M. Paris de Montmartel as well as the English novelist and politician Horace Walpole, while today in addition to the J Paul Getty Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art one can see his work at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire.
During the reign of Louis XV the taste for colour, gaiety and luxury gave rise to the marriage of gilt bronze and porcelain clock cases. The fashion was largely promoted and even created by the marchands-merciers, such as Hébert, Poirier, Daguerre and especially Lazare-Duvaux. Wealthy collectors from royalty and the aristocracy delighted in the contrasting durability of bronze set against fragile white or brightly coloured porcelain. As we see here the porcelain was sometimes imported direct from China while in other instances it was produced in the European factories such as Vincennes, which specialised in flower heads, Chantilly, or Meissen. In many instances a single clock combined figures from one factory and flowers from another. As here some of these cases featured figurines while other included animals and birds but nearly always set against a profusion of flowers.