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Work Rhinoceros Clock
Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: rococo
© 1997 Musée du Louvre / Pierre Ballif
18th century: rococo
Clocks with animal figures made the reputation of the bronze caster Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain in the 1750s. What makes the rhinoceros clock distinctive is that it combined gilt bronze and patinated bronze at a time when the two were rarely used together.
Clocks with animal figures
Dating from the 1750s, this striking rhinoceros clock is structured in layers of separate elements: first a base, housing a chime; then a gilt-bronze platform in the rocaille style supporting a patinated bronze rhinoceros; a circular case; and the figure of a young Indian in gilt bronze. Rhinoceroses and elephants seem to have been the most popular choice for clocks with animal figures. But there are also clocks with lions, horses, boars, dragons, and camels. The model shown here is one of the most famous and most popular designs created by the bronze caster Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain (1719-91).
A model often reproduced
Many examples of the rhinoceros model can still be found today, evidence of its popularity in the eighteenth century. The base of the clock in the Louvre is curved, plated with tortoiseshell, and decorated with gilt-bronze mounts. Other clocks of a similar model have bases plated with different materials ("corne verte," for instance). Sometimes these clocks do not have a base.
Artists working together
The clockmaker Francois Viger (1704-84) produced the movement of the rhinoceros clock in the Louvre. On several occasions he worked with the bronze caster Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain, who created the cases for the clocks.
BibliographyAlcouffe D., Les bronzes d'ameublement du musée du Louvre, à paraître fin 2003.
Ottomeyer H. et Pröschel P., Vergoldete Bronzen, 1986, vol. 1, p. 122.
Verlet P., Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, 1987, pp. 120 - 121.
Jean-Joseph de SAINT-GERMAIN (Paris, 1719 - Paris, 1791)
Gilded and patinated bronze, tortoise-shell
Gift of M. René Grog and Mme Grog-Carven, 1973
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