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Palatial & Rare Napoleon III French Ormolu and Patinated Bronze Clock, Detouche


A palatial, extremely rare, and important Napoleon III French ormolu and patinated bronze regulateur de parquet clock, by Louis-Constantin Detouche, Paris, circa 1860. The clock case made form the finest french ormolu, with 2 very large patinated bronze seated putti. The white enamel dial Signed C. DETOUCHE/ PARIS. The clock movement is numbered 7064 and stamped with maker’s stamps C. Detouche RUE st. MARTIN and C. DETOUCHE 158 R. St MARTIN 160, with medaille d’argent stamp, on a serpentine part ebonized mahogany plinth. At over six feet tall, the present clock is impressive in scale and rare in Detouche’s oeuvre. While other large clocks were produced by the firm, few of this scale are so overtly decorative and usually incorporate greater mechanical complication. For example, a gilt bronze astronomical regulator clock of 185 cm height, dating from circa 1855-60 and with a very similar pendulum to the present example, that sold ArtCurial, Paris, 11th December 2007 ($218,625 including premium), and a tall mahogany-cased electric regulator clock of the same date from the Paul Garnier collection that sold Christie’s London, September 15th 2004 ($86,909 including premium). Another comparable large case clock, dating from 1863, one of several donated by Detouche to the Conservatoire Impérial des Arts et Métiers de Paris (Musée des Arts et Métiers inv. 07179-0000), appears to be currently disassembled. The present clock corresponds to a description given by a critic commenting on the Detouche exhibit at the Nimes exhibition of 1862, who remarked: “M. Detouche has already received the most prestigious awards; I will just mention: the gold medal at the Exposition Universelle d'Horlogerie at Besançon in 1860, and the gold medal in London in 1862. He was awarded La Croix de la Légion d'Honneur for his contribution toward the progress in horology that resulted from his work, the Croix de Dannebrog was awarded to him by the King of Denmark for his electric clock. Such items deserve to be described in a few details. They present improvements worthy to be known and appreciated by every clockmaker who has benefited from M. Detouche's work and true service… The jury noted secondly a rocaille style regulator in gilt bronze of a remarkable taste, measuring 1m, 90… All of the items shown by this company are to be noted for their modest prices, their elegance, their rich ornamentation and precision, and their skilled workmanship. The jury awards to M. Detouche a diplôme d'honneur." [translated from the French, op. cit.] Louis Constantin Detouche, the son of Parisian clockmaker Georges Detouche, was born in Paris in 1810. In 1830 he moved his father’s business from rue de Venise to 158-160 rue St. Martin. In 1845, Detouche employed as his chef d’atelier Jacques François Houdin, whose technical virtuosity and invention did much to establish the firm’s reputation, garnering them praise for their ingenuity, patents and highly sophisticated precision movements, compensating pendulums, astronomical complications, and use of electro-mechanical movements. The Maison Detouche, exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851, and many subsequent International and regional exhibitions to much acclaim, winning gold medals at the Exposition Universelle Paris 1855, Besançon 1860, London 1862 and Nimes 1862. Awarded the Danish Croix de l'ordre du Dannebrog, and the French Légion d’honneur in 1853 for his contribution toward the progress in horology that resulted from his work, Detouche was also the official clockmaker to the city of Paris and the Emperor Napoleon III. Among Detouche’s most celebrated works is one of two spectacular astronomical regulators with fourteen subsidiary dials showing indications of the days, months and dates, sunrise and sunset time, the equation of time, moonrise and moonset, lunar phases, barometer and thermometer, and the time in several cities, which once stood at the corner of the rue Saint-Martin and the rue de Rivoli but is now housed in the showroom of François-Paul Journe SA Manufacture in Geneva. Provenance: This clock was exhibited by Detouche at the Exposition de Nimes, 1862, where Detouche won a gold medal, the clock remarked by the jury as “un régulateur genre rocaille en bronze doré, d'un gout remarquable et d'une hauteur de 1m 90”. By repute, formerly in the collection of the Florsheim family, Chicago Private North American collection, acquired privately early 2000s Literature: Revue Chronométrique, vol. IV, Paris, 1862, "Exposition de Nîmes - Rapport du Jury” pp. 605-609. Tardy, Dictionnaire des horlogers français, Paris, 1971-1972, pp. 182-183. Measures: 81" high x 50" wide x 19" deep Excellent condition. No damages noted. The glass panels on the front and back of the lower sections have been replaced by Perspex.  


  • Condition
  • Wear
    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Dimensions
    H 81 in. x W 50 in. x D 19 in.H 205.74 cm x W 127 cm x D 48.26 cm
  • Seller Location
    New York, NY
  • Reference Number
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About the Seller

5 / 5
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Located in New York, NY
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