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Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: rococo
© 1983 RMN
18th century: rococo
This regulator clock stands over two meters high on a base with lion claws. In homage to the Count of Toulouse, Admiral of France, for whom it was made, its decoration has a nautical theme, with a ship's castle, dolphins, tritons, crabs, and so on. The central section holds the pendulum, and the upper one the clock face, with the figure of Time and his scythe below it and the figure of Fame with its trumpet above it. The case is a fine example of Boulle marquetry.
This regulator was made for Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon (1687-1737), Count of Toulouse, the son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan. It was initially placed in the Galerie Dorée, on the first floor of the Hôtel de Toulouse, which is now the Bank of France. In 1756, when an inventory was drawn up following the death of the Duchess of Penthièvre, daughter-in-law of the Count of Toulouse, the clock was found in the Grand Cabinet, next to the Galerie Dorée. During the Revolution, it was assigned to the National Printworks, which were set up in the Hôtel de Rohan. It entered the Louvre in 1915.
A clock in harmony with the paneling of the Galerie Dorée
In 1713 the Count of Toulouse bought the town house built by François Mansart in the seventeenth century, and in 1717 he started work on it. The woodcarver François-Antoine Vassé, general designer for the Royal Navy, carried out the decoration in the Gallery. He used hunting and nautical themes as a reference to the Count of Toulouse's positions as admiral and master of the royal hounds. The regulator is decorated in the same style, to match the ornamental scheme of the gallery, which was thereafter known as the Galerie Dorée, or Golden Gallery.
A timepiece in homage to the Count of Toulouse
The regulator in the Louvre is typical of the Boulle style, using shell and brass marquetry. The cabinetmaker André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732) was one of the first to adapt gilt bronze for use in furnishings, thus introducing a sculptural element. The cabinetmaker created at least three pieces of furniture in homage to the Count of Toulouse, and these, too, had nautical images as decoration. Besides the regulator, there were a pair of barometers, one of which included a thermometer.
BibliographyLudmann et Pons, Nouveaux documents sur la galerie de l'hôtel de Toulouse, 1979, p. 126.
Alexandre Pradère, Les ébénistes français de Louis XIV à la Révolution, 1989, p. 88 et p. 90.
Daniel Alcouffe, "Les deux baromètres du comte de Toulouse", in Connaissance des Arts, n 531, pp. 94-97.
Daniel Alcouffe, Anne Dion-Tenenbaum, Amaury Lefébure, Le mobilier du musée du Louvre, t. 1, Dijon, Editions Faton, 1993, pp. 102-105.
André-Charles BOULLE (1642-1732), cabinetmaker; LE BON, clockmaker
Made for Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, Count of Toulouse (natural son of Louis XIV and the Marquise of Montespan), Admiral of France, to decorate the Hôtel de Toulouse (now the Bank of France); under the Revolution, assigned to the National Printworks,
Oak, ebony veneer; brass, shell, and horn marquetry; gilt bronze
H. 2.52 m; W. 0.70 m; D. 0.37 m
Transferred from the Ministry of Finance, 1915
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