France, Louis XV period
Chased and gilt bronze
The movement is signed “Martin Paris”
This cartel clock has an animated frame with asymmetrical chased and gilt bronze decoration. The overall is richly adorned with foliage scrolls, moulded mounts ending in scrolls and flowers. It is characteristic of the rocaille forms which favour curves, abundance and asymmetry.
The white enamelled circular dial shows the hours in Roman numerals and the minutes are given by two openworked and gilt bronze hand by five-minutes intervals in Arabic numerals. On the reverse side, the movement is signed “Martin Paris”.
Under the frame is an opening behind which the pendulum is visible. At the top of the set, a bird with outstretched wings is placed on a trellis covered with a garland of flowers running along the right-hand side of the cartel.
A rocaille cartel clock
Developing from the 1720s onwards, the origins of the “rocaille” ornament can be explained in several ways. Most often, the shapes of shells and palmettes are put forward to explain its genesis. Some people also put forward the idea that rock garden ornaments were a continuation of cave decorations or petrified forms, which would explain the name of the rocaille style. The progress of the natural sciences and the craze for collections of natural curiosities such as madrepores, corals, petrifications and shells probably favoured the development of this ornamental repertoire characterised by the use of scrolls, foliage, shells, natural rocks and minerals motifs. Although it spread all around Europe, in some countries its exuberance went as far as asymmetry, where it was then referred to as rococo. In France, it was expressed in a more sober form where symmetry remained the norm for the general shape of the furniture or bronzes concerned. Gilt bronze thus was a particularly favourable field of exploration for the expression of the “rocaille” vocabulary, sometimes going so far as to dare the asymmetry of the ornaments, as illustrated by this cartel where movements and volutes are asymmetrical.
French sobriety is however emphasized for the central dial.
Pierre Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française, du Moyen Âge au XXe siècle, Paris, les éditions de l’amateur, 1997.
Hans Ottomeyer, Peter Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen : die Bronzenarbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, München, Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1986.
Pierre Verlet, Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, édition Picard, 1987.
Good overall condition
Slight split on the dial