Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 381, pl. 5.15.25, illustrating an identical Deverberie case signed on the dial Gaulin à Paris.
Tardy, “Les Plus Belles Pendules Françaises”, 1994, pp. 246-7, illustrating Deverberie’s original drawing for the model in the Bibliothèque National and three other identical cases.
Elke Niehüser, “Die Französische Bronzeuhr”, 1997, p. 146, pl. 236, showing an identical case with dial signed Ridel à Paris.
Pierre Kjellberg, “Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle”, 1997, p. 351, featuring an identical clock with dial signed Thiéry à Paris.
A very fine quality Empire gilt and patinated bronze ‘Pendule l’Afrique’ of eight day duration signed on the white enamel dial Jn SI+ Deverberie Cgnie Rue des Fosse du Temple No 47, the dial with Arabic numerals and a fine pair of pierced gilt brass 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 magnificent drum-shaped case surmounted by a seated figure of a half-draped huntress with bow in her left hand and arrow in her right, which is also attached to a chained seated panther, her feet resting on a turtle, the whole on a waisted base, mounted either side with serpent-tied floral garlands and relief cast amorini to the front, above a beaded border on shaped brass feet
Paris, date circa 1812-15
Height 46 cm, width 37 cm, depth 14, cm.
Identical models of this wonderful clock, representing the personification of Africa, can be found among such prestigious collections as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris and the Musée Duesberg at Mons (one with movement by Ridel, the other by Bonnet). Other examples are signed on the dial by clockmakers Armingault, Dubuc l’Aîné, Sirost, Thonissen and Ribot à Montélimar. Jean-Simon Deverberie’s (1764-1824) original drawing for the Pendule à l’Afrique of 1799 is included in his album of clock designs now housed in the Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque National, Paris. It was one of a number of ingenious designs on the theme of le bon Sauvage; his other most famous ones representing l’Amerique portraying a negress with alligator at her feet and l’Indien et l’ Indienne enlacés.
Deverberie was undoubtedly one of, if not the finest bronze manufacturer to produce clocks on a similar theme, the first being La Négress, which was delivered by Furet and Gaudon to King Louis XVI’s wife, Marie-Antoinette in 1784. The present model, which was made as a pendant to his l’Amèrique dates from 1799 and continued in popularity up until about 1815.
Interestingly, though the subject is exotic the iconography looks back to classical mythology, the figure of Africa replacing that of Diana, mythological huntress and likewise accompanied by mythological amorini. By 1800 Deverberie, who also acted as a marchand-mercier, was established at rue Barbette, four years later he was at Boulevard du Temple and from 1812 until 1824 his bronze manufacturing business Deverberie & Compagnie was based at rue des Fosse du Temple.
The overall design reflects the late eighteenth century interest in le bon Sauvage, culminating in the abolition of slavery in 1793. This concept was aired by Rousseau, whose ‘Discourse on the Origin of Inequality’, 1754 proposed that beauty and innocence of nature was extended from plants and trees. In 1767 the French explorer Bougainville arrived in Tahiti followed by Captain Cook in 1769. They returned with two of the islanders, Aotourous and Omai. The latter was taken to London where he was received by King George III and painted by no less than Sir Joshua Reynolds. After hearing the happy and harmonious life of the South Sea islanders, soon the brightest wits of Paris and London began to question their own corrupt European society in relation to the innocence of the native islanders. The notion of le bon Sauvage also inspired some of the greatest literary works of the period including Daniel Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’ (1719), Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ (1724), as well ‘Paul et Virginie’ (1787) by B. de Saint-Pierre and ‘Atala’ (1801) by Vicomte de Chateaubriand. In turn the latter two works were the subject for two wonderful clock cases which the gallery has had the pleasure of owning.