French Régence console clock, Masson

French Régence console clock, Masson

Price: Price on request

Offered by Kollenburg Antiquairs BV

French Régence console clock, Masson French Régence console clock, Masson

The approximately twenty-one-day movement is driven by a spring barrel. It is regulated by a verge escapement in combination with a pendulum hung on silk. The other two spring barrels regulate the striking train and the quarter-hour striking train, with the hours struck on the large bell and the quarter hours on the two small bells. The movement is signed Masson a Paris on the rear plate. This designates Charles Masson, who became a master clockmaker in 1717.

The fire-gilt bronze dial features twelve white enamelled cartouches containing blue enamelled Roman numerals indicating the hours. The minutes are engraved along the bronze outer edge in Arabic numerals. The hands are blued steel. The central section of the dial is finely worked with a decoration of musical instruments and a cockerel, the symbol of France: the Latin word “gallus” means both “cockerel” and “Gaul”. The cockerel was officially adopted as a symbol of France in 1830, and has since adorned for example the flagpoles of the National Guard.

The clock’s design is sometimes referred to as Tête de Poupée (doll’s head) and shows stylistic similarities to the works of André Charles Boulle. The clock is entirely executed in contre-partie Boulle work. The Boulle technique is characterised by the simultaneous cutting of superimposed layers of various materials, creating a series of combinable elements that allow the creation of similar polychromous compositions equal to the number of used materials.

The clock is borne by a separate base in the shape of a reverse trapezium culminating in a bronze pine cone. The console is flanked on both sides by stylised ram’s heads. The transition to the clock case is decorated with a semi-round bronze edge with a repeating rosette motif.

The lower section of the clock case is richly detailed, with a blue horn and brass cartouche in the centre. Before the cartouche stands a fire-gilt bronze Cupid. Above the cartouche is the dial, behind a round, glazed door. The clock is crowned with a separate, tapering bonnet, upon which sits a putto holding an hourglass, representing time.
The sides of the cabinet are decorated with two fire-gilt bronze portrait medallions.

André Charles Boulle
André Charles Boulle (1642-1732) was a French ébéniste (cabinet-maker) who combined superlative technique with immense imagination. One of his greatest merits was moving away from the strong Italian and Flemish influences in the French cabinet-making industry to develop a uniquely French style in terms of shape and decoration. This did not pass unnoticed, and he came to work at the court of Louis XIV from 1672 onwards.

Boulle was soon appointed “premier ébéniste du Roi”, or the King’s First Cabinet-Maker. This freed him from the limitations imposed by guild regulations, enabling him to combine the various disciplines he had mastered without suffering penalties. He was a designer, painter, mosaicist, chiseller/engraver, marquetry maker and “inventeur de chiffres”.

Boulle’s fame and renown were primarily due to his exceptionally inventive marquetry using tortoiseshell and various metals, which came to be known as the Boulle technique. Naturally, Boulle did not work alone. He had a large workshop staffed with the best craftsmen in the various disciplines that he used to create his extraordinary furniture and artifacts. It was not long before his clientele expanded from the French court and the nobility to include commissions from the Spanish and Bavarian courts, among others.

Boulle had four sons, all of whom apprenticed under him before entering his employment. Two of them continued their father’s workshop after his death, while the others established themselves as independent furniture makers, though all four upheld their father’s tradition of working with ebony, tortoiseshell, brass and tin.

Images of similar clocks can be found in Pierre Kjellberg’s Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle on page 56, image B, and in Giacomo and Aurélie Wannenes’s Les plus belles pendule françaises de Louis XIV à l’Empire on pages 63 and 65.

Private collection, the Netherlands
ca. 1720
oak case decorated with fire-gilt bronze, brass, tortoiseshell, horn and enamelled cartouches
Masson a Paris
114 x 32 x 20 cm

Offered by

Kollenburg Antiquairs BV

Postbus 171
5688 ZK Oirschot
The Netherlands

+31 499578037
+31 655822218

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