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Work Clock

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: rococo

Vue de Bagnères-de-Luchon, prise de la route de Bigorre

Decorative Arts
18th century: rococo

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

This clock was originally part of a garniture that comprised two "foliated" pot-pourris and two "sconced" pot-pourris. This five-piece ensemble was delivered to Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764) for her château at Ménars. In a Rocaille style, the clock is adorned with a "petit verd" ground that was very much appreciated by Madame de Pompadour. The mechanism was fashioned by the Parisian clockmaker Jean Romilly (1714-1796) and the rest of the object is Sèvres porcelain.

A Rocaille work

In a markedly Rocaille style, this clock stands in a contoured porcelain case on four legs that terminate in sabots. The face is set in a large scalloped cartouche heightened with combed gilding. The clock is topped with white flowers and foliage in relief, simply enriched with gold. The sides and the back of the case are adorned with polychrome cascades of flowers.

The decoration

Whereas both "foliated" pot-pourris (conserved at the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore) and both "sconced" pot-pourris bear painted decoration of Chinese scenes by Charles-Nicolas Dodin, the clock is endowed with decoration linked to its function. Indeed, the dial-case is crowned with a naturalistic trophy grouping the emblems of time: a scythe, a sand glass, butterfly wings, beribboned scissors, and a distaff. Created in 1760, the "petit verd" ground of this clock and the other pieces of the garniture is moreover exceedingly rare. Madame de Pompadour had a marked taste for the "petit verd" ground; she incidentally reserved the first pieces decorated with this ground for the Count von Moltke, minister of the king of Denmark.

An ornament for the Château de Ménars

Located between Orleans and Blois, the Château de Ménars was built by Guillaume Charron, Counselor to the King, circa 1646. Madame de Pompadour bought the château and the grounds of Ménars in 1760. She contracted the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel (1698-1782) to redecorate it in the fashion of 1760-1765. Quite fond of porcelain, she commissioned a number of works of Sèvres porcelain for this château, as for other of her residences. The five-piece garniture to which the clock belonged was delivered on June 25, 1762. Until the end of her life, Madame de Pompadour was one of the greatest patrons of the manufactory. She made many purchases there, and undoubtedly supported the move of the Manufactory from Vincennes to Sèvres. Her original and innovative taste gave rise to the most extravagant shapes and ornamentation.

Bibliography

Catalogue d'exposition : "Madame de Pompadour et les arts", Versailles, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2002, pp. 455-456

Catalogue d'exposition : "Un Défi au goût", Paris, musée du Louvre, 1997, pp. 77-79

Technical description

  • Manufacture de Sèvres

    Clock

    C. 1762

    Signed “Romilly” (dial and movement)

  • Soft-paste porcelain

    H. 30 cm; W. 22 cm

  • Marquise de Pompadour, Château de Ménars (with pot-pourris OA 11306 and OA 11307); Etienne-François de Choiseul-Stainville, Duc de Choiseul (1719-85); Edouard Chappey; E.M. Hodgkins; Sir Robert Abdy; Sir Valentine Abdy; acquired in 1982

    OA 10899

  • Decorative Arts

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Additional information about the work

On the dial-case: Romilly à Paris