PROPERTY FROM A NEW YORK PRIVATE COLLECTION
Paris, circa 1880s
Paris, circa 1880s
It is difficult to be certain if this model was cast to Messagé's design before he worked with Linke or during his long and fruitful association with him from circa 1890. However, and probably significantly, another version of this clock of the same size in a private collection in Orlando, Florida, was purchased by Christopher Payne in 1997 from Jean Bieder, son of Hans Bieder, the last contremaître to work for Linke in Paris who took over Linke's business and remaining stock on Linke's death in 1946. (Bieder's grandfather had also been Linke's contremaître in the 1890s). Messagé was a talented sculptor and designer who had worked as an independent consultant for Roux et Brunet in Paris, then Emmanuel Zwiener and latterly for Linke himself. Linke clearly recognized the genius of Messagé and helped him through his artistic tantrums and further helped his widow in 1901 by buying the rights of Messagé's models. The distinctive blending or modernizing of the traditional Louis XV style with contemporary art nouveau was the main feature of Messagé's work: a feature that helped Linke become a world famous maker after his success with Messagé at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle.
It is very rare to find extant works by Messagé: the only other sculpture as a work of art in its' own right is an inkwell designed by him (Payne; Linke; p. 72). However the authorship is not clear as the Linke Archives hold another drawing of the same inkwell in a hand believed to be by Linke himself. Message produced a series of engraved designs for furniture, sculpture and silver in his privately published Cahier des dessins et croquis style Louis XV of 1890.
The looped device on the oars of the present lot was originally thought to be a pair of spectacles or lorgnettes similar to the pair of spectacles used on a gilt-bronze mount for a bed, sold Sotheby's New York A Private Collection Volume I, 26th October 2006, lot 41, p. 65 with a watercolor of the bed in the Linke Archive shown in the same catalogue p. 61. However Xavier Jover has identified the loops around the oars of the present clock as thole pin tethers, more in keeping with the maritime theme of the present lot. Another version of this clock, apparently the same size as the present lot, has a movement by another maker, the enamel dial signed Fd. Gervais a Paris. (Illustrated: Payne, Christopher. Gen. Ed.: The Age of Exquisite Luxury, Shanghai People's Fine Arts Publishing House, 2011, pp. 320-323).
A smaller version (54 cm high) with a movement by Le Roy of Paris and distinctively different with a patinated, not a gilt, bronze putti surmounting the case, was sold Sotheby's New York, A Private Collection vol. I, October 26, 2006, lot 93; two pencil designs by Messagé for mantle clocks, heightened with wash, are also illustrated in François Linke, pl. 103, p. 92.
Footnote courtesy of Christopher Payne.
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