Elke Niehüser, “Die Französische Bronzeuhr”, 1997, p. 249, pl. 1034, illustrating a very similar clock.
A rare Louis XVI gilt bronze mounted white marble mantel clock of eight day duration by Jean-Simon Bourdier, signed on the white enamel dial Bourdier à Paris, the dial with black Roman and Arabic hour and minute numerals, in between which are red numerals for the 31 days of the month, with a very fine pair of pierced gilt brass hands for the hours and minutes and a blued steel pointer for the calendar indications. The movement with anchor escapement, silk thread suspension, striking on the hour and half hours with outside count wheel. The white marble case heavily adorned with extremely fine gilt bronze mounts, surmounted by a vase with a floral and foliate finial and handles formed of cockerel heads issuing from foliate scrolls upon a domed plinth mounted by a bearded satyr head with vine leaves and grapes covering his hair and trailing to either side, flanked either side above the dial by foliate finials above pilasters, each cast with a beautiful female head above floral and foliate sprays encircling and issuing from a fluted vase crossed below by a pair of arrows and a fruiting boss, the dial mount portraying a central vase flanked by a pair of putti playing a pipe and abundant floral and foliate sprays and scrolls, the whole upon a shaped rectangular base with a pierced gilt bronze frieze of flower heads within foliate scrolls flanked either end by rosettes, on turned feet
Paris, date circa 1790
Height 43 cm, width 29 cm, depth 10 cm
The quality of the clock’s case is matched by the maker of its movement, namely Jean-Simon Bourdier (d. 1839), who was one of the most ingenious Parisian clockmakers of his day. Bourdier was received as a maître-horloger in 1787, at which date he was established at rue des Prêcheurs; by 1801 he was recorded at rue Mazarine in 1801, then in 1812 at rue Saint-Sauveur and in 1830 at rue Saint-Denis. Bourdier created a number of extremely complex clocks, making his first longcase equation clock with astronomical indications and a compensating pendulum of a new type in 1788. Among other ingenious creations was a musical clock, which sounded on flutes and a two-part piano playing 12 different tunes. Completed in 1799, it was made for King Charles IV of Spain, as was another that played 16 tunes and indicated the time on a copy of Trajan’s column around which the sun revolved every 24 hours and had simulated fountains below.
Bourdier exhibited at both the Expositions des Produits de L’Industrie, 1806 (winning a silver medal) and 1819. At least seven of his clocks are housed in the Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, while other examples can be found at the Musée National des Techniques and Ministère de la Guerre in Paris, the Musée de Dijon, Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Lyon Château de Malmaison, the Victoria and Albert Museum London and the Hermitage Museum Saint Petersburg. As a leader in his field, Bourdier only used the very finest cases, supplied by such eminent bronziers as Claude Galle, Pierre-Philippe Thomire, François Rémond and François Vion. He also used veneered cases by Balthazar Lieutaud, Jean-Henri Riesener and Ferdinand Schwerdfeger while his dials were supplied by the finest enamel painters notably Joseph Coteau and Etienne Gobin, known as Dubuisson.