This regulator was probably bought by Bertram Wodehouse Currie of Hampshire, before passing to his descents, the Thence family. Until today, it was in a private Collection.
Michel Hayard, "Antide Janvier 1751 - 1835, Horloger des étoiles, Celestial clockmaker." France 1995, illustrating this clock, page 86 - 87.
Michel Hayard, "Antide Janvier, Horloger des étoiles / Celestial clockmaker." 2010, illustrating this clock, Page 140 - 143.
A superb and unique gilt brass mounted mahogany month going longcase regulator with mean and sidereal time by Antide Janvier, surmounted by an urn. The movement is hallmarked on the back plate and the dials bear the name of the clockmaker and the enameller "Janvier à Paris / Coteau".
Paris, dated 1795, No 215.
Height 213 cm, width 38 cm, depth 25 cm
The wo dials are separated by an enamel plaque on which is written: "Tems moyen. Tems sidéral". The blue enamel drapery is set off by gilded garlands. The largest dial which has a second hand at the centre, shows only the minutes with beautiful gilded hand. This hand shows the minutes of sidereal time on the fixed outer ring, and the minutes of meantime on the interior section which moves. The smallest dial, underneath, shows the hour with two hands: one gilded and finishing in a fleur-de-lis, shows the mean hour; the other, in blued-steel, shows the sidereal hour. The dial is divided into twenty-four hours in both Roman and Arabic numerals.
The movement, which is hallmarked on the backplate, has a pin-wheel escapament. The pendulum with gridiron compensation, is suspended at the back of the body. The motive weight is brass, and drives the movement with an endless cord system known as "Huygns", mounted on a pulley. This piece is very slender, with austere lines and perfectly balanced proportions.
Antide Janvier 1751 - 1835
The son of Claude-Etienne Janvier, a farm-worker who combined agriculture with horological out-work, and Françoise Tournier, Antide Janvier was born in the parish of St Romain at Brive, a hamlet today within the commune of Lavans in the arrondissement of St Claude. He was baptised the day of his birth, 1 July 1751, in the church of St Lupicin, being named after the god-father who was also probably his grand-father. His brother Joseph was born three years later, and soon after Claude-Etienne moved to the rue Neuve in St Claude where he devoted himself entirely to horology. His wife having died prematurely, the education of his sons devolved at first entirely upon him, but at the age of twelve Antide, already probably initiated into horology, was consigned for a fuller formation to the abbé Jacques Joseph Tournier (1690-1766), who is likely to have been his uncle. He was a fervent, if slightly eccentric, amateur of mechanics and astronomy and the application of the one to the other. Janvier would write later that, "he had perfectly acquired the art of calculating wheel-trains and judging of their effect; he taught me the elements of this art". At the same time Tournier taught Janvier good Latin and perhaps transmitted to him the taste for occult symbolism which would lead to his later adherence to free-masonry.
Highly gifted, and no doubt influenced by his mentor, Janvier at only 15 years old, had already begun work on a planetary sphere before Tournier died. In 1768 Janvier showed this machine to the Academy of Sciences, Letters and the Arts of Besançon where it was enthusiastically commended. After remaining for three years in Besançon, where he carried out a rather unfortunate restoration of the 16th century calendar and astrolabe clock once the property of Cardinal Granvelle, he returned to St. Claude where he worked on new planetary spheres one of which he may have presented to Louis XV during a brief visit to Paris in 1773. In 1775 he showed a further pair of spheres to the Academy of Besançon before settling in Verdun where he was discontented but nonetheless married his first wife Anne Catherine Guyot in January 1783. In the same year he was awarded the title of Horloger-mécanicien de Monsieur, frère du Roi.
In 1784 Janvier returned to Paris where, thanks to the support of Lalande and Papillon de la Ferté, Intendant of the Menus-Plaisirs, he obtained an audience with Louis XVI who instantly purchased the pair of mechanised spheres (Ptolemaic and Copernican), that Janvier displayed to him. The same year he moved definitively to the capital. Here he received an order for a turret-clock to drive dials in different rooms of the Ecole Lyrique with the charge to maintain it. With the post went an apartment in the school and the freedom to practise his trade unhindered by the Paris guilds. Thus set up, Janvier produced a stream of high quality, original, precision clocks for the beau monde of Paris and the court. If he was now constrained to make clocks which would serve as impressive items of decorative furniture as well as being time-keepers he insistently collaborated with only the finest cabinet-makers and bronze-workers and still contrived to create specialised virtuoso pieces such as his tide clock and, later, his clock showing time in each of the new Départements. His devotion to astronomical clocks however never wavered, and from time to time he acquired notable astronomical clocks from the past such as one of Pigeon's spheres and a globe-clock by Outhier/Catin.
Following the abolition of the monarchy and the dismantling of the court in 1792, also the year in which his wife died, Janvier adapted to the new regime. In 1793 he petitioned for, and obtained, an apartment in the Louvre, sign, perhaps, of acceptance. In 1794 he was appointed a member of the Commission Temporaire des Arts, charged to seek out and inventory the cultural objects of the dispossessed nobility which could be useful for public education. Despite such calls upon his time Janvier now entered into his most fecund decade of production, devising new models and recycling some earlier ones. Notably it was during this period, between 1788 and 1801, that he realised his two master-pieces, four-faced, astronomical clocks surmounted by mechanical spheres. The first of these, which was purchased by Louis XVI in late April 1789 was kept in the Tuileries (see lot 121) where it probably perished in the fire of 1871. The second is today well cared for in a private collection (see A. Kugel, Sphères, l'art des mécaniques célestes, cat. expo. galerie J. Kugel, Paris, 2002).
From 1803/4 onwards Janvier inhabited an extensive apartment in the Collège des Quatre Nations, now re-baptised as the Collège des Arts, which would, from 1805, become the permanent home of the Institut National. Here he would remain in increasingly difficult financial circumstances (in part of his own making) for most of the rest of his life. In 1810 he was forced into bankruptcy and a good part of his stock was dispersed at auction. He remained however active, writing copiously (lots 126 and 127), participating in national exhibitions but failing to restore the astronomical clock of Passemant from Versailles. In 1818 he married his second wife Sylvie-Thérèse de la Tour (1779-1859) who quickly understood that he had little need of her and returned to the Jura. Despite his cantankerous character, Janvier continued to be aided by a handful of committed friends (notably his erstwhile pupil, the noted clock-maker B. H. Wagner) during his difficult later years. He died on 24 October 1835.
In the course of his long, active, even turbulent life, Janvier produced something close to six hundred clocks. Only about ten percent of them are known today. All are highly original, the complexity of their mechanisms and indications offset by the austerity of their cases. Summarising Janvier's style Pierre Mesnage emphasised "above all the character of a scientific instrument imposed on the clocks but with a strong concern for the aesthetic in the sober decoration; complicated functions realised simply by highly judicious mechanisms and wheelwork; a classical treatment of the specifically horological elements such as the escapements and the compensation, but remarkable, inventive variety in the cinematic combinations; finally a perfection of execution for both the movements and the accessory elements". Janvier, once arrived in Paris, employed only the leading craftsmen of his day, but subsumed their work into his own individual style of complicated simplicity embodied in widely varied forms.
The three clocks presented here illustrate clearly this essential nature of Janvier's work. They range across his entire career from his earliest years as a young prodigy in the 1770s (lot 121) through a mature work of his prime (lot 122) to a revision of his later years (lot 123). Janvier's ideas concerning planetary clocks developed throughout his life and the remodelling of one of his earliest clocks should occasion no astonishment. All three clocks are crucial documents of his life-long endeavour to realise fully the horologist's dream across many centuries of representing the motion of the heavens in the simplest possible mechanical way. "By highly ingenious methods", wrote Ferdinand Berthoud, "he has imitated the irregular movements of the Sun and Moon". To these Janvier then added mechanical solutions for the equation of time and for representing the courses of the planets. The pride which led this 'virtuoso of mechanisms' to provoke comparison with Copernicus in the title of Des Révolutions des corps célestes par le mécanisme des rouages, Paris, 1812 (lot 127), was not devoid of foundation.
- Augarde, Jean-Dominique & Ronfort, Jean Nérée. Antide Janvier, mécanicien-astronome, Horloger ordinaire du Roi, Paris, 1998.
- Gros, Georges. 'Antide Janvier, elements biographiques à l'occasion du bi-centenaire de sa naissance, 1751-1951', Bulletin d'ANCAHA, XVII, 1977, p.106-26.
- Hayard, Michel. Antide Janvier 1751-1835, horloger des étoiles, Villeneuve-Tolosane, 1995.
- Mesnage, Pierre, 'L'Œuvre horlogère d'Antide Janvier', Bulletin d'ANCAHA, XV, 1975, p. 7-38-
- Reverchon, Léopold, 'Antide Janvier, horloger-astronome (1751-1835)', Annales françaises de Chronométrie, 1935, p. 242-253.
Planetarium shown to the Académie des Sciences, Belles-Lettres et Arts de Besançon in 1767, and approved by the academy with a commendatory certificate 24 May 1768. The sphere, which may not originally have been clock-work driven, was reworked on several occasions by Janvier before he finally adapted it c. 1799 to be driven by a weight-driven seconds-beating clock. Mounted in an elegant glazed case by Schwerdfeger, it was sent for approbation to the Institut (to which Janvier aspired election) on 27 November 1799. Subsequently sold to M. de Rougemont, it passed to Breguet in which family it remained until the third quarter of the 20th century when it was sold to J. A. Billmeier from whom it passed, with the rest of his collection, to the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford.
Gilt wood armillary planetarium signed Exécutée à St Claude par A. Janvier fils en 1771 AET[ATIS] 20. Musée du Temps, Besançon.
Planetarium showing the planets to Saturn, the latter with its satellites. Instrument shown to Louis XV at Fontainebleau in November 1773 but not now known to exist.
Hand-operated Copernican planetarium signed Janvier fils à St Claude F[ecit] l'an 1773, mounted later on a spring-driven clock movement. Musée Paul Dupuy, Toulouse.
Signed Exécuté à S. Claude par Janvier fils l'an 1774.
Pair of spheres shown to the Academy of Besançon, 10 May, the report described them as 'très ingénieuses et fort bien executes' (very ingenious and very well made).
Pair of small mechanised spheres (Ptolemaic and Copernican), acquired by Louis XVI. Described in Description de deux machines astronomiques présentées au Roi le 24 avril 1784 par A. Janvier, horloger de Monsieur, Verdun, 1784.
Planetary clock in the form of an 8-column, circular white marble temple, signed on the dial Janvier au Menus Plaisirs du Roi; movement signed Janvier à Verdun N° 109; sphere signed A. Janvier à Verdun N° 3 1783. Collection Comte du Villafranca, sale 19-22 March 1872; Gazette de l'Hôtel Drouot 36, July-August 1998 (Augarde & Ronfort notes 36 & 270); Drouot –Richelieu (Antoine Ader), 24 November 1998, lot 84.
Four-face, free-standing clock surmounted by an armillary planetarium showing planets to Uranus (the first incorporation of this planet in a mechanised model), approved by the Académie des Sciences 14 February 1789. Purchased by Louis XVI. Probably destroyed in the fire which consumed the Tuileries during the Commune, 1871.
Conception and realisation of the four-face, free-standing astronomical clock with planispheres and an armillary planetarium – the 'masterpiece'. Private collection. Described and illustrated in Jean-Dominique Augarde & Jean Nérée Ronfort, Antide Janvier, mécanicien-astronome, Horloger ordinaire du Roi, Paris 1998, p.74-100.
Pair of small mechanised spheres similar to those acquired by Louis XVI. Private collection, ex. Time Museum, Rockford.
Three-stage, heliocentric planetarium (minor planets only) signed Janvier au Louvre, possibly the machine for which Janvier sought approbation from the Institut in 1800 (Augarde & Ronfort 69). Private collection, sold Christie's 12 June 1996, lot 269.
Planetarium within a glass sphere crowning an equation clock inscribed Régulateur astronomique Construit par Antide Janvier, horloger ordinaire du Roi, restaurée par Paul Garnier son élève 1863. Musée du conservatoire des Arts & Métiers, Paris.
Tellurium within a glass sphere carried by three Atlas-figures on a triangular base. Private collection. See Norbert Tieger, Horloges anciennes, Paris 1991, p.184-5.