Deverberie's company made and sold a variety of decorative bronze items but he has become most famous for his clock cases depicting African and American natives. Most usual are individual models representing Africa, seated with a panther and America, seated with an alligator. These were created at a time when there was a fascination in Europe with the idea of the noble savage or bon sauvage from exotic and faraway continents.
The present exceptional and rare model, l'Indien et l'Indienne, would appear to take it's influence from Classical Roman and Greek sculptures of Cupid and Psyche. The embraced figures also bears a resemblance to Canova's marble sculpture of Cupid reviving Psyche with a kiss, which was created in the early 1790s. From as early as the 16th century, American Indians had been portrayed carrying bows and arrows and this made the transformation to Cupid even easier. Interestingly, Deverberie also designed a clock case with European figures in an almost identical pose and, as a shrewd businessman as well as a fine designer, he shows here how a theme can be exploited to maximum effect.
The original designs for this clock and others by Derverberie, dated 1799, can be found in the Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris.
Represented in major collections throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Museum, New York (fig. 1), The Francois Duesberg Museum, Mons, Belgium and the Spanish Royal Collection in Madrid, virtually every example of this model is slightly different and it is likely that, being made to commission, it was possible for the client to specify their own particular variation. For instance, this example has a simulated waterfall where others have an opening to reveal the pendulum; all have glass eyes but some also have earrings. There are also subtle variations in the bracelets and other mounts to the base of the case.
Deverberie supplied his cases to other clockmakers as well, but the present example is particularly rare in that it is not only fully signed by him stating his Paris address in Rue Barbet, but it is also the proud indication that this piece was both designed and made by him (Int. Ft.). Other examples are known with dials signed by Revel, Lepine, and other clock makers and some have variations on the Deverberie signature, most commonly without a street address and just Paris.
An almost identical clock was sold at Koller Auctions, Zurich on 30th March, 2017, Lot 1241.
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