Pierre Kjellberg, “Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle”, 1997, p. 227, pl. D, illustrating an almost identical clock case, likewise with movement by Bourdier and dial by Dubuisson with additional ‘lyre strings’ below Pegasus.
The case is extremely rare for even though a number of other lyre-shaped clocks incorporated griffon heads very few featured Pegasus, the mythological winged horse. The model may very possibly have been inspired by an engraving of Apollo on Mt Helicon, which was illustrated in C. N. Cochin’s “Iconologie par Figures”, published Paris, 1757, book I, no. 27.
A wonderful Louis XVI paste-set gilt bronze and Campan Melange marble lyre clock with movement by the eminent maker Jean-Simon Bourdier and dial by the renowned enamellist Dubuisson, signed on the white enamel dial Bourdier and Dubui, the beautifully painted dial with Roman numerals and outer gilt-decorated Arabic calendar ring, with a very fine pair of pierced lyre-shaped gilt brass hands incorporating the monogram ‘B’ for the hours and minutes and a blued steel pointer for the date indications. The movement with anchor escapement, striking on a bell inscribed ‘LA’, housed in a very fine pierced lyre-shaped case mounted with scrolling foliage and anthemion and set with paste brilliants, surmounted by a figure of Pegasus, flanked by griffon heads bearing floral swags above a spreading base and a stepped rectangular and acanthus cast plinth on a rectangular Campan Melange marble base and gilt bun feet
Paris, date circa 1785
Height 59 cm, width 19 cm, depth 12.5 cm.
The movement was made by Jean-Simon Bourdier (d. 1839), one of the most ingenious Parisian clockmakers and musical mechanics. Bourdier was received as a maître-horloger in 1787, at which date he was established at rue des Prêcheurs. He was later recorded at rue Mazarine in 1801, rue Saint-Sauveur in 1812 and rue Saint-Denis in 1830. Bourdier made a number of extremely complex clocks; he made his first equation longcase 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. 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.
His dials were supplied by the greatest enamel painters namely Joseph Coteau (1740-1801) and as here by Etienne Gobin, known as Dubuisson (b. 1731 d. after 1815). Born in Lunéville, Dubuisson worked as a porcelain painter in his hometown, in Strasbourg, and at Chantilly. Like Coteau, he was employed at the Sèvres Royal Porcelain Factory, 1756-9, as a flower painter, specializing in enamelling watchcases and clock dials. During the 1790’s he was recorded in the rue de la Huchette and later circa 1812 at rue de la Calandre. His name is associated with the finest clockmakers of his day, in particular Bourdier as well as Kinable who was famed for his lyre clocks and Louis XVI’s favourite clockmaker, Robert Robin