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Clock: rhinoceros

© 1997 Musée du Louvre / Pierre Ballif

Decorative Arts
18th century: rococo

Voiriot Catherine

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.


Alcouffe 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.

Technical description

  • Jean-Joseph de SAINT-GERMAIN (Paris, 1719 - Paris, 1791)

    Clock: rhinoceros

    C. 1750


  • Gilded and patinated bronze, tortoise-shell

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

    OA 10540

  • Decorative Arts

    Sully wing
    1st floor
    Room 612

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