John Widener of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, acquired during the 1930’s.
J. Ramon Colon De Carvajal, “Catalogo De Relojes Del Patrimonio Nacional”, 1987, p. 73, cat. no. 56, illustrating a similar clock by François-Louis Godon with dial by Joseph Coteau; and p. 76, cat. no 60, illustrating another clock by Godon housed in a similar case complete with an identical allegorical putti mount below the dial. In both cases the figure of Literature varies only slightly from the present but the figure of Science to the left has an open book rather than crossed arms.
A beautiful Directoire gilt bronze and marble figural clock of eight day duration attributed to Jean-Simon Bourdier, the beautifully painted white enamel dial attributed to the eminent enamellist Dubuisson, signed à Paris, with Roman chapter ring and rare outer Arabic Republican numerals 1-30 for the days of the month set within blue and red lozenges ornamented with red and gilt spandrels and foliage, the original pierced lyre-shaped gilt brass hands for the hours and minutes, the hour hand terminating in an encircled B (for Bourdier) and a blued pointer for the calendar indications. The movement with anchor escapement, silk thread suspension, striking on the hour and half hour, with outside count wheel, with fine regulation above 12 o’clock. The magnificent gilt bronze case surmounted by the Cockerel of France with spread wings standing upon books and trailing berried laurel branches, the dial within a turned bezel upon a fluted pedestal flanked by seated classical females in diaphanous attire, the one to the right representing Literature with an open book on her lap, the other representing Science with her arms crossed, the figures centred by a cast relief depicting putti as allegorical representations of Painting, Astronomy, Geography and Sculpture, upon a panelled rectangular base with rounded corners ornamented by a central pierced gilt frieze with putti amid scrolling foliage, flanked either side by further putti mounts on turned bun feet
Paris, date circa 1795
Height 55 cm, width 72 cm, depth 13 cm.
The seated figures of Literature and Science relate to the work of the sculptor Simon-Louis Boizot (1743-1809) who created similar models of L’Etude and Philosophie for the Sèvres Royal Porcelain Factory, 1780. Boizot’s groups were subsequently incorporporated into a design for a closely related clock attributed to the bronzier François Rémond (b. circa 1747, d. 1812), executed circa 1783-5 in response to a commission by the marchand-mercier, Dominique Daguerre. In 1788 Daguerre supplied Louis XVI with two clocks of that model for the Salon des Jeux at Château de Saint-Cloud.
The present clock, dating slightly later than Daguerre’s commission, was completed during the Directoire as evidenced by the fact that the dial displays Republican calendar numerals 1-30 as opposed to 31 days during the pre and post-Revolutionary era. Furthermore the dial is merely signed à Paris. During the reign of Terror, 1792-95, many of the Parisian clockmakers who had formerly enjoyed royal or aristocratic patronage preferred to safeguard themselves by anonymity and thus rarely included their names on the dial (nor in this instance on the movement). However in this instance it is possible to identify the maker as being Jean-Simon Bourdier (d. 1839), based on the fact that one of the original dials (which are now slightly simpler than on earlier Louis XVI dials) is pierced with the letter B, as used by Bourdier on other clocks, including a lyre clock and an astronomical skeleton clock, respectively illustrated on pp. ? [old nos 29 and 69] in this book. Bourdier, one the most brilliant clockmakers of his time and the best musical mechanic created a number of highly complex clocks of which the most remarkable were made for King Charles IV of Spain. He only used the finest cases and dials supplied by the leading enamellists namely Joseph Coteau (1740-1801) and Etienne Gobin, known as Dubuisson (b. 1731 d. after 1815) whose style was very similar to the present dial.