A very beautiful and rare Louis XV gilt bronze cartel clock of eight day duration, signed on the white enamel dial and on the movement Ageron à Paris, the dial with Roman and Arabic numerals and a very fine pair of pierced gilt brass hands for the hours and minutes. The movement with silk thread suspension, anchor escapement, striking on the hour and half hour on a single, with outside count wheel. The magnificent gilt bronze case of asymmetrical cartouche outline ornamented overall with scrolling acanthus leaves and floral and foliate sprays, surmounted by an acanthus spray, flanked diagonally either side of the dial with a pair of cranes and seated below the dial a young Chinaman wearing a hat and with a bird on his hand above an asymmetrical foliate terminal
Paris, date circa 1745-50
Height 91 cm, width 50 cm.
The movement for this magnificent clock was made by François Ageron (d. after 1783), who was one of the leading eighteenth century Parisian clockmakers. Ageron’s establishment was famous and known for his horological genius he created both clocks and watches, many of which had complicated movements. He was born at Arbigny and was received as a Parisian maître-horloger in 1741, at which date he was established at Place du Pont Saint-Michel.
By 1747 he had moved to Quai des Augustins, five years later he was at rue Saint-Louis au Palais and then in 1763 at place Dauphine. Like other great clockmakers of the period he used cases by the finest bronziers notably Philippe and Jacques Caffiéri, Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, Robert and Jean-Baptiste Osmond, Jacques Dumont and Etienne Portelette as well as the ébéniste Balthazar Lieutaud. Among such collaborations is the Pendule aux Quatre Vents of circa 1765, which has a movement by Ageron and case by Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, (Bayerische Schlösserverwaltung, Munich).
Though the exact date of his death is unrecorded it is known that Ageron’s stock was sold on 31st May 1784. Among important collectors to own his work can be cited the marquise de Montesquiou, the duc de Deux-Ponts and duc de Rohan, Mademoiselle Laguerre, the marquis de Dupleix, the Governor of the French Indes as well as M. Bonnemet. Today many of his great works can be found in public collections throughout the world, including the Musée du Louvre and Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Residenzmuseum Munich, Museo Grassi in Madrid. Other examples of his work are housed at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire Brussels and at Château Josselin.
The sumptuous case is without doubt in keeping with a clockmaker of Ageron’s calibre. Of superb quality the case model appears to be rare, if not unique, but in terms of style can be compared to a cartel clock with movement by Pierre Le Roy, illustrated in Pierre Kjellberg, “Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle”, 1997, p. 102, pl. A. As here the identity of the bronzier responsible for the case is unknown. Both clocks however epitomise the Rococo style that dominated the arts during the reign of Louis XV. Among typical Rococo elements, common to both, is the asymmetrical form, the abundance of foliate scrolls and finely detailed floral sprays combined with Chinoiserie motifs. Rococo art was much inspired by the exoticism of the Orient and thus on this piece is a young Chinaman as well as a pair of cranes, often portrayed in Chinese art as symbols of longevity.