A superb quality and unusually small early Restauration gilt bronze cartel clock of fourteen day duration, signed on the white enamel dial Lepaute et Fils Hrs du Roi and also signed and numbered on the movement Lepaute & fils à Paris, 2281 + 1/12, the dial with Roman numerals and blued steel Breguet style hands for the hours and minutes. The movement with anchor escapement, silk thread suspension, striking on the hour and half hour on a single bell, with outside count wheel. The elegant case with the bezel surrounded by a ring mounted with the twelve signs of the zodiac, enclosed by a middle ring with heart-shaped anthemion banding and an outer ring formed of acanthus palmettes
Paris, date circa 1815-20
Diameter 30 cm.
The movement for this very fine cartel was made by the esteemed house of Lepaute under the direction of Pierre-Basile Lepaute, known as Sully-Lepaute (1750-1843). Born at Thonne-le-Thil and belonging to a great dynasty of clockmakers, he initially joined his uncles and cousin in Paris in about 1766 and served his apprenticeship in the family workshop. From 1774 Pierre-Basile worked as a de facto associate with Jean-Baptiste Lepaute (1727-1802) and his cousin Pierre-Henry (1749-1806) until he and the latter purchased their uncle’s business in 1789. Following Pierre-Henry’s withdrawal in 1795, Pierre-Basile took in his nephew Jean-Joseph Lepaute, known as Collignon (b. circa 1768 d. 1846) who worked together under the name of Lepaute Oncle & Neveu. This association enjoyed great repute, gaining influential clients and winning a silver medal at the Exposition des Produits de l’Industrie of 1806, at which time the business was based at rue Saint-Thomas-du-Louvre. From 1811 Pierre-Basile formed a new association with his son Pierre-Michel (1785-1849) under the name of Lepaute et Fils. Two years later he created a clock for the Palais de Fontainebleau and about the same time ones for Saint-Cloud as well as Compiègne. During Napoleon’s reign the firm became the main supplier of clocks to the Garde-Meuble and was appointed Horloger de l’Empereur. After the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy they were titled Horloger du Roi, whereupon Lepaute’s firm continued as one of the main suppliers of clocks to the Garde-Meuble and distinguished itself at the Expositions des Produits de l’Industrie in 1819 and 1823. By 1820 Pierre-Basile Lepaute’s business was based at rue de Richelieu and the following year at rue St-Honoré.
The design for this case is a more elaborate development of an earlier cartel du Congrès by Lepaute, decorated with twelve stars. Two of those cartels were supplied to Napoleon for the Grand Trianon, Versailles where they still hang. Both are illustrated and described in Denise Ledoux-Lebard, “Le Grand Trianon, Meubles et Objets d’Art”, 1975, pp. 91 and 111. The first to be delivered (p. 111) measuring 40.5 cm in diameter was made for the Salon de l’Empereur and is described as: “De l’horloger Lepaute, pour le salon de l’Empereur, du Grand Trianon, livré le 12 mars 1810. Une Pendule forme médaillon, en bronze doré mat, mouvement à sonnerie, cadran de plus de 22 cm diameter. Prix fait à 700 F, appliqué contre le mur de la cheminée”. The second (p. 91), delivered a few months later, is described as “Mémoire de Lepaute, oncle et neveu, horloger de S.M. l’Empereur et Roi, à Paris, rue Saint-Thomas-du-Louvre no 42, pour le Grand Trianon, appartement de l’Empereur, salon des Officiers, du 10 août 1810. Avoir fourni et place sur dessus de la cheminée une Pendule forme médaillon en bronze doré mat. Mouvement à sonnerie de plus 22 cm. de diameter. Prix fait à 700 F”