Review: Antide Janvier - Celestial Clockmaker - 1751-1835 - by Michel Hayard

Fortunat Mueller-Maerki

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New Janvier Biography

The following Bookreview was first published in the July 2011 issue of

Antiquarian Horology

The Proceedings of The Antiquarian Horological Society,

Antide Janvier - Celestial Clockmaker - 1751-1835 - His life through his work. By Michel Hayard. Published 2011 by Lelivredart, Paris (France). ISBN: 978 2 35532 087 3. 461 pages, 29 cm x 23 cm, hardcover, copiously illustrated in color. Fully bilingual edition French/English. Edition Limited to 1000 copies. Bibliography, Index. Available from the publisher for Euro 112, at http://www.lelivredart.com/librairie.php?url:^euvre&isol=1062 (Also available in a ‘Prestige edition’, in slipcase, including a reproduced Janvier manuscript for Euro 180).

The great French clockmaker Antide Janvier died in poverty and without heirs in 1835, and for much of the 19th and early 20th centuries his horological contributions were forgotten or ignored. That his genius is recognized today is primarily due to the scholarship of Michel Hayard, who has spent a lifetime researching and documenting Janvier’s oeuvre. An electronic engineer by training, Hayard has lived since the 1970s near Toulouse, France, pursuing a career in the aerospace industry. With a deep interest in astronomy and antique horology he soon fell in love with the planetary clock by Janvier at a local museum – the Musée Paul-Dupuy (inventory No. 18060) - as well as the Double Pendulum (Resonance) Regulator by Janvier (inventory no. 18281). These two extraordinary timepieces were in the relatively obscure location because they had been part of the famous Edouard Gelis collection of French horology.

Hayard spent much of the 1980s studying the oeuvre of Janvier, resulting in the 1995 first edition (ISBN 2-911063-00-7) of the book under review, which lists 86 known clocks by Janvier. That book was plagued by problems; the publisher became insolvent during the process, resulting in delays and many errors never being corrected in the book, and hampering distribution of the book, which became very hard to find. After also creating a well produced complete catalog of the Musée Paul-Dupuy in 2004 (ISBN 2-85056-728-0), Hayard has returned to his passion, and had now corrected, enhanced and significantly expanded the Janvier bibliography.

The book is a ‘catalogue raisonné’ of all clocks currently known of Janvier. There are now 160 of them (of which 156 have at least one known image). The oeuvre catalog occupies 350 of the 461 pages of this book, and individual entries range from half a page to seven pages. Typically, at least half the space is taken by images. These range from a single grainy reproduction of a former auction catalog image to several full page, new color photographs documenting case and movement in detail. The amount of text details varies similarly, from a short sentence to a multipage essay. Many entries give exact dimensions and chains of provenance.

The catalog proper is preceded by a series of brief chapters dealing with: Horology at the time of Janvier;, a biographical summary (12 p.); a section documenting the seven known portraits of Janvier; a five page timeline of his life; and a brief note on his library and writings. There is also a brief chapter on Janviers numbering systems (one before his bankruptcy, one afterwards) and the assumed production volume. The clock catalog itself is followed by a listing of other instruments (barometers and thermometers) signed Janvier, the clocks of his brother Joseph Janvier, several watches (with probably fake signatures) signed Janvier. There are nine Annexes: 1. A text by Janvier about a utopic horological community, 2. An essay on “Resonance’, 3. A listing of known fakes (illustrated), 4. A short introduction to cosmology, 5. An explanation of the equation of time, 6. The bibliography, 7. An Index of names, 8. Photography credits and 9. Acknowledgements.

This book is everything an oeuvre -based biography of a great horologist should be. It is thorough, factual, well researched, well produced, with great illustrations. The author has chosen a somewhat unusual numbering system: Because many of Janvier’s clocks are not numbered on the artifacts, but there is strong evidence that Janvier did keep a numbered register of all his production, Hayard chooses to assign what he calls ‘arbitrary’ production numbers to all known clocks. Although the process is clearly explained, this reviewer considers that system problematic; after all a new clock might be discovered carrying a number allready assigned by Hayard to another one. Other than that minor detail, the book is a wonderful and important addition to the horological literature and deserves a space on the bookshelf of any lover of high grade antiquarian horology.

March 2011 Fortunat Mueller-Maerki, Sussex NJ
 

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JaviRey

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Hello,
is my first message on the forum.
I am fond of old clocks. I collect and restore them without any commercial interest. I write from Spain and I have just read this interesting review about Michel Hayard's book.
I have not read the book and its very expensive an unaffordable for me.

I recently acquired an little mantel clock. The movement is signed by Janvier. In principle, it is a wooden clock with a beautiful and simple marquetry.
After I read your precise description of the Hayard´book. I am very afraid that it may be a fake clock of the great Janvier.
I wanted to ask you if you have any way of contacting Michel Hayard. I would like to write to him. My wish is to provide you with information about this piece. Really, I don't care if it's a Janvier or a fake Janvier, but it will be interesting to know the truth about this clock. I think it might be useful to the author of the book.
Thanking you for your interest,
Kind regards,
JaviRey

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FDelGreco

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JaviRey:

Welcome to the forum!

I have Hayard's book and it lists and shows photos of all his known clocks. Yours isn't there nor anything like it. There are a couple of pages on fakes, as apparently unscrupulous antique dealers have been know to make or assemble fakes. The examples of fakes shown are also not like your clock.

Frank
 
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JaviRey

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Oct 28, 2020
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Hi Frank,
Thank you for the reply and for taking the time to find another similar clock.
All Janvier's clock that I have been able to see, none of them looked like it. And, after your review of the book, you have confirmed my suspicions.
The mystery continues.
I have located a website through which I have sent a message to Michel Hayard. If I receive a response, I will tell you about it in this forum.

However, I have looked similar marquetry clocks like this and I have located a dozen of them. All have the same shape and all have suspension of silk thread. A lot of are signed by Henri Marc, there are some signed by Leroy and some other manufacturer.
If anyone is interested, the images of all similar clocks were uploaded in another watch forum in my language (Spanish).
https://www.relojes-especiales.com/foros/relojeria-gruesa/sobremesa-pequeno-de-marqueteria-520748/
Greetings to all
Javi rey
 
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