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    Default May 2010. Albert Baillon Clock on a Plinth

    83
    Albert Baillon
    Andr-Charles Boulle (?)
    Paris

    Clock on a plinth

    Wood, tortoiseshell, copper, bronze, enamel
    Total height: 185 cm.
    Height of clock: 150 cm. Width: 65 cm. Depth: 25 cm.
    Dial signed: A Baillon
    Movement signed: Albert Baillon A Paris


    Circa 1710-1720 Inv. IV-543


    The clock has a tortoiseshell case with inlaid copper work of flowers and foliage, and is glazed on three sides. Ormolu bronzes highlight its shape. The top, surrounded with thick volutes, is crowned with a sculptured figure of Time sitting on the world. The curved pediment is embellished with a frieze of flowers and a decorative escutcheon in the centre. The entablature shows a small girl and a young boy, both with wings and seated, and two braziers; it is supported by four caryatids bearing the attributes of Geometry and Tragedy. The door of the case is decorated with a mythological scene: Pluto's abduction of Persephone, with the nymph Cyane desperately trying to save her.

    Four bud-shaped feet support the clock, whose angles are enfolded with large acanthus leaves. A garland of acanthus leaves hangs on the front; the sides are decorated with masks of old men with puffed cheeks. Like the child figures of the upper part, these masks personify the winds.

    The plinth for the musical mechanism (missing) is also in tortoiseshell with inlaid copper work and decorated with bronzes gilded with ground gold. A set of musical instruments adorns its centre; female heads ornamented with aigrets and a row of beads are applied on the corners. The feet are shaped like lion's paws.

    Placed in the centre of a lattice work of flowers, the chased brass dial features white enamel cartouches with Roman numerals for the hours and Arabic numerals for the minutes. The hands are blued steel. A small white enamel cartouche (recently restored) bears the clockmaker's signature.

    The clock movement has a recoil escapement. The hour and half-hour bell striking-mechanism is controlled by a locking-plate. The two plates are supported by baluster pillars.

    With its impressive dimensions and rich decoration, this clock evokes on several accounts the work of Andr-Charles Boulle (1642-1732), cabinet-maker, engraver and inlayer extraordinary to the King. The iconography and sculptural quality of the gilded, chased bronzes, more than the marquetry, suggest that the work was done in the celebrated artist's workshop. Several of the bronzes are characteristic of his work: the seated figure of Time, the caryatids, the children on the cornices, the heads of the women, and the lion's paws on the base. The sculpted group on the door depicting the abduction of Persephone is similar to a work by Franois Girardon, dating from 1699, that is found at the centre of the Colonnade grove in the gardens at Versailles. This was not the only time that Boulle made use of models created by some of the great sculptors like Coustou, Desjardins, Duquesnoy and Girardon, with whom he worked on the construction of several royal buildings. It was from Girardon, in fact, that he took the reclining figure of Time holding a pair of scales, which graces one of his most famous clock designs, Love, the Conqueror of Time. The bas-relief of the clock described here also provides several similarities - particularly the figure of Persephone - with an engraving by Daniel Marot, the Fire, part of a series called the Four Elements and printed around 1703. (cf. European Clocks in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, 1996, p. 19, illus.)

    This particular clock case is undoubtedly one of the many models produced by Boulle and his sons during the first quarter of the 18th century. In 1720, the workshop had seventy-five clock cases, almost all of them different.


    History:
    1985 (purchased).

    Bibliography:
    Tardy, 1962, p 35, illus.
    Cardinal, 1993, pp. 36-37, illus.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by John Webb; 10-27-2010 at 07:12 PM. Reason: Added a Photograph

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