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Work Barometer-thermometer

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: neoclassicism

Barometer-thermometer

© 1997 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
18th century: neoclassicism

Author(s):
Catherine Voiriot

This barometer-thermometer dates from circa 1776 (the record low temperature recorded during the winter of that year is included in its scale.) It bears the signature of Claude-Siméon Passemant, who died in 1769, but whose workshop continued to produce scientific instruments. Mounted in gilt bronze, it features polychrome porcelain plaques, framed in blue. The Transition-style mount is crowned by a ribbon motif and adorned with cascades of fruit, laurel leaves and foliage.

Background history

The original owner of this barometer-thermometer is unknown. However, the piece is known to have been part of the R.J. Cooper Collection, before being sold at Christie's, London on 30 October 1947 (lot no. 99). It was given to the Louvre in 1973 by Mr. and Mrs. Grog-Carven.

A rare barometer-thermometer

Combined barometers and thermometers of this type are relatively rare. Other examples include one at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire (England), which has lost its thermometer, one at the Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, dating from 1774, and one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which belonged to Madame du Barry and is dated 1769.

Decorations on the theme of scientific instruments

Barometers of this type were first sold by the marchand-mercier (furnishings dealer) Simon-Philippe Poirier, almost certainly in 1769. They seem to have been the height of fashion in 1769-70, and Poirier is known to have sold one to Mme du Barry (now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York) in 1769. The Louvre barometer features highly original decorations, based on the theme of scientific instruments. The uppermost porcelain plaque depicts an armillary sphere resting on clouds. The central plaque shows a cherub holding a book entitled "La Connaissance des Temps” and an astronomical telescope. Another telescope is featured on the smaller,  bottom plaque.

Bibliography

Alcouffe D., Les bronzes d’ameublement du musée du Louvre, 2003.
Bellaigue G. de, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor. Furniture…, 1974, vol. 1, pp. 44-47.
Frémontier-Murphy C., Les instruments de mathématiques XVIe–XVIIIe siècle. Cadrans solaires, astrolabes, globes, nécessaires de mathématiques, instruments d’arpentage, microscopes…, 2002, pp. 318-320.
Frémontier-Murphy, C. "Une collection d’instruments scientifiques au musée du Louvre", in L’Estampille L’Objet d’Art, 1999, no. 342, pp. 40-53.
Verlet P., La maison du XVIIIe siècle en France, 1966, p. 211.
Verlet P., "La donation Grog-Carven au musée du Louvre, I, Mobilier et Objets d’art", in La Revue du Louvre, 1974, no. 2, pp. 120-131.
Louis XV. Un moment de perfection de l’art français, Paris, Hôtel de la Monnaie, 1974, no. 448.
Cinq années d’enrichissement du Patrimoine national 1975–1980, Paris, Grand Palais, 15 November 1980–2 March 1981, no. 102, pp. 122-123.
Madame Du Barry. De Versailles à Louveciennes, 1992, Marly-le-Roi-Louveciennes, Musée promenade, 1992, p. 174, no. 16.

Technical description

  • Claude-Siméon PASSEMANT

    Barometer-thermometer

    C. 1776

    Paris

  • Soft-paste Sèvres porcelain, enamel, gilded bronze

    H. 1 m; W. 0.27 m

  • Gift of M. René Grog and Mme Grog-Carven, 1973

    OA 10545

  • Decorative Arts

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