The graceful lyre-shaped clock first appeared during the Louis XVI period after circa 1780 as evidenced by a design of that date, conserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Ralph Esmerian, 60.692.8.
At least thirty lyre-shaped cases were produced at the Sèvres manufactory between 1786 and the end of the century and these are possibly the most recognizable form. Lyre-shaped clocks made entirely in ormolu, like the present example, are rarer but no documentary evidence has come to light to suggest which bronziers were responsible for their production. The elegance of their design and the quality of the materials used in their production was such that examples were acquired by George IV for Carlton House, and by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette for the Salon des Jeux at Versailles.
Two other examples which have identical ormolu spirally fluted and beaded lyre-form supports are recorded: one, formerly in the Alexander collection (sold, Christie's, New York, April 30, 1999), is raised on a blue Sèvres porcelain base, it is surmounted by an identical sunburst centered by a mask above identical fruiting grapevine swags. The porcelain base is fitted with identical floral garlands, all of which would suggest that it was made in the same workshop as the present lot. Another with identical spiral-fluted and beaded supports is in the Musée François-Duesberg in Mons, Belgium, illustrated, P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française, Paris 1997, p.224, fig. C.
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