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Wall clock

© 1987 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet

Decorative Arts
18th century: rococo

Author(s):
Voiriot Catherine

Combining decorative elements suggesting plant and mineral forms, this dissymmetrical, typically Rocaille wall clock became part of the royal collection in 1787. It was housed in the chambers of the King's Minister at the Royal Furniture Repository in Paris before being transferred to the Mobilier National. The clock is set in bronze with ebony veneer and brass and tortoiseshell marquetry on the sides. The composition features Cupid seated on a cloud and Time on a rocky mound.

Love, Vanquisher of Time

Clockmakers made extensive use of the theme of Love overcoming Time as decoration for clock casings. The Cupid at the top is a cherub embodying the idea of youth. He dominates the composition as a whole, especially the bent figure below of an old man representing Time.

A fine example of Rocaille

Originally the cherub's left arm leaned on an hourglass, while in the lower part of the clock there were two tall trees, one on each side of a trefoil cartouche. These missing elements brought a degree of balance to a composition whose marked dissymmetry has earned this wall clock a reputation as the most characteristically Rocaille of all Charles Cressent's creations.

Related works

At least five examples of this model are known to exist: in addition to the one in the Louvre, others are found in the Mayor's office at City Hall in Marseille, the Wallace Collection in London (dated 1764), the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Wrightsman Collection), and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Other clockmakers were responsible for the mechanisms of these clocks.

Bibliography

Ballot M.-J., "Charles Cressent, sculpteur, ébéniste, collectionneur", in Les Archives de l'art français, 1919.

Alcouffe Daniel, Dion-Tenenbaum Anne, Lefébure Amaury, Le mobilier du musée du Louvre, tome 1, Dijon, Editions Faton, 1993, p. 127.

Technical description

  • Charles CRESSENT (1685-1768), cabinetmaker, sculptor, and maker of bronzesNicolas GOURDAIN (d. 1753), clockmaker

    Wall clock

    Circa 1740-45

    Chambers of the King's Minister at the Royal Furniture Repository, 1787; courtroom of the former abbey of St Genevieve, 1794; Court of Appeals, Law Courts, Paris

    Paris

  • Gilt bronze, copper, tortoiseshell

    H. 1.32 m; L. 0.47 m; D. 0.38 m

  • Deposited with the Mobilier National, 1953

    Love, Vanquisher of Time

    OA 9586

  • Decorative Arts

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