A Directoire ormolu, griotte marble and Sèvres porcelain mantel clock, Joseph Revel, Paris, circa 1795
- ebonised pine, marble, bronze, brass, steel, enamel, glass
- 56cm. 22in. high; 67.5cm. 26½in. wide (without the cover)
Although little is known of the early life of the clockmaker Joseph-Marie Revel, he is renowned for incorporating his movements and dials into cases contributed to by the finest craftsmen. It is not known where he trained but he became a master clockmaker in 1775 and shortly afterwards established himself in the Vieille rue du Temple. By the time he created the present clock he had moved to 118 Palais Royal followed by Palais Egalité, circa 1800. He died in 1811.
Etienne Gobin, known as Dubuisson (d. circa 1822), watch and clock enameller, worked at Chantilly and Sèvres as a flower painter. He is recorded in the Rue de la Huchette in the 1790s before moving to Rue de la Calandre around 1812. Along with Joseph Coteau, Dubuisson was responsible for the finest enamelled clock dials of the latter part of the 18th century. Clocks by Revel have been recorded with dials by both of these important enamellers. The dial of the present clock is unusual in being signed Dubuis rather than in full.
The finely chiselled bronzes of this clock bear many similarities with the work of François Rémond, (1742-1812). Rémond provided ormolu mounts to a number of important late 18th century clockmakers, including Revel, and is famous for his renderings in bronze and ormolu of the work of the sculptor Louis-Simon Boizot, namely the seated figures known as L'Etude. In the present clock it is the figures of gryphons and sphinxes and the floral swags that are particularly characteristic of Rémond.
Louis-Simon Boizot, (1743-1809), was a trained sculptor and was admitted to the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1778. He is particularly known for the white biscuit porcelain figures that were produced at Sèvres during his supervision of their workshops between 1773 and 1800. The figures 'La Leçon de l'Amour' and 'La Leçon à l'Amour', (The Lesson of Love and The Lesson to Love) were created by Boizot in 1794 and are illustrated in E Bourgeois and G Lechevalier, Le Biscuit de Sèvres, Chevignard, Vol. 1, pp. 48, figs. 383 and 384.
An almost identical clock signed by Antoine Philibert, Paris, is in the Huntington Collection, San Marino, California having been purchased in Paris by Mrs Arabella Huntington in 1910 for $6000 (fig.1). It is illustrated and described in S M Bennett and C Sargentson, French Art of the Eighteenth Century at The Huntington, edn. 2008, No.51, pp. 154.
A very similar clock with ormolu rather than Sèvres figures is in the collection of the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersbourg and was exhibited in The Triumph of Eros, Art and Seduction in 18th Century France, held in the Hermitage Rooms at Somerset House, London between November 2006 and April 2007 and illustrated and described in the catalogue for that exhibition pp. 79, plate 31 (fig.2). That clock having been in the collection of Prince Nikolai Borisovich Yusupov, (1750-1831), and recorded from 1810 in Moscow. In 1819 it was transferred to the Arkhangelsoye Palace and in 1850 to the Yusupov Palace in St Petersburg. It remained in the Yusopov family until 1917 and was transferred to the Hermitage State Museum in 1925.