FRANCE ÉPOQUE LOUIS XVI
PENDULUM "FONTAINE AUX DAUPHINS"
Paris, circa 1770
Gilt bronze, white marble and enamel
Dial signed BAILLON A PARIS
H. 40 cm, W. 30 cm, D. 13 cm
This rare model of clock is a superb example of the art of Bronze of the 18th century, associated with one of the most prestigious watchmakers of the period. The circular dial is set on a lion's whelp from which reeds emerge. Dolphins seem to be drinking from the spurts of water emanating from the fountain that crowns the dial. The white marble terrace is adorned on its perimeter with chased and gilded bronze interlacing friezes. The entire composition rests on four flattened ball feet. An identical clock, with a dial signed Musson, is reproduced in Tardy's La clodule française - de Louis XVI à nos jours, p. 251, fig. 4 (fig. 1). Another identical clock, with a dial signed D.F. Dubois in Paris, is reproduced in Pierre Kjellberg, Encyclopedia of the French Clock from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century, p. 176 (fig. 2). The dial, enamelled white with Roman numerals for the hours and Arabic numerals for the minutes, is signed BAILLON A PARIS.
Jean-Baptiste Baillon was one of the most important watchmakers of the 18th century. Received as Master Watchmaker in 1727, he made his career in the service of the royal family, appointed Valet de Chambre - Ordinary Clockmaker to the Queen before 1748, then First Valet de Chambre and Valet de Chambre - Clockmaker to the Dauphine in 1770.
Baillon's business was described as follows in 1753: "His house is a watchmaker's shop, the most beautiful and the richest... His house in Saint-Germain is a kind of factory. It is filled with workers who are constantly busy for him... since he alone makes a good part of the watchmaking in Paris".
The importance of his production was always associated with a very great concern for quality, Baillon collaborating with first-rate bronze-makers such as Caffieri, Osmond and Saint-Germain. As a rare and reliable witness of this period, our model illustrates the evolution of the characteristic taste of the years 1760-1770 in a particularly remarkable manner. Drawing its inspiration from the ancient ornamental repertoire, the dolphins can be considered here as a clear allusion to the Dauphin, the future Louis XVI, and the Dauphine that Baillon served at that time.
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