19th Century French Sevres Porcelain Ormolu Clock
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19th Century French Sevres Porcelain Ormolu Clock

About

This is a lovely antique French ormolu, gilt bronze, mantel clock with a profusion of Roue Blue porcelain panels in the Sevres manner, circa 1870 in date. The movement carries the Paris retailers and the clock maker mark HP & Co and what we assume to be their serial number 1582 and the notation 63 inside an oval. The clock has beautiful, hand painted porcelain plaques inset in the sides and decorated with floral motifs. The plaque in the centre depicts a lady dressed in a period costume and a cherub, both set against classical architecture. The top of the clock is decorated with an ormolu statue of Cupid Riding Dolphin which is a based on a famous painting by Peter Paul Ruben with the same title. The clock has an 8 day striking movement and is complete with pendulum, bell and key. This incredible clock is a must have for any collector of ornamental and decorative pieces. Condition: The clock is in excellent working condition the movement having been cleaned and serviced, the ormolu case having been polished, in our workshops, please see photos for confirmation. Dimensions in cm: Height 31 x Width 19 x Depth 19 Dimensions in inches: Height 1 foot, 0 inches x Width 7 inches x Depth 7 inches Ormolu (from French 'or moulu', signifying ground or pounded gold) is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-carat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze.The mercury is driven off in a kiln leaving behind a gold-coloured veneer known as 'gilt bronze'. The manufacture of true ormolu employs a process known as mercury-gilding or fire-gilding, in which a solution of nitrate of mercury is applied to a piece of copper, brass, or bronze, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold remained, adhered to the metal object. No true ormolu was produced in France after around 1830 because legislation had outlawed the use of mercury. Therefore, other techniques were used instead but nothing surpasses the original mercury-firing ormolu method for sheer beauty and richness of colour. Electroplating is the most common modern technique. Ormolu techniques are essentially the same as those used on silver, to produce silver-gilt (also known as vermeil). Sevres Porcelain traces its roots in France to early craftsmen who had small manufacturing operations in such places as Lille, Rouen. St. Cloud, and most notably Chantilly. It is from Chantilly that a cadre of workers migrated to the Chateau de Vincennes near Paris to form a larger porcelain manufactory in 1738. French King Louis XV, perhaps inspired by his rumoured relationship with mistress Madame de Pompadour, took an intense interest in porcelain and moved the operation in 1756 to even larger quarters in the Paris suburb of Sevres. Sevres was also conveniently near the home of Madame de Pompadour and the King's own Palace at Versailles. From the outset the king's clear aim was to produce Sevres Porcelain that surpassed the established Saxony works of Meissen and Dresden. Though the French lacked an ample supply of kaolin, a required ingredient for hard-paste porcelain (pate dure), their soft-paste porcelain (pate tendre) was fired at a lower temperature and was thus compatible with a wider variety of colours and glazes that in many cases were also richer and more vivid. Unglazed white Sevres Porcelain "biscuit" figurines were also a great success. However, soft-paste Sevres Porcelain was more easily broken. Therefore, early pieces of Sevres Porcelain that remain intact have become rare indeed. The Sevres Porcelain manufactory always seemed to be in dire financial straits despite the incredibly fine works it produced. In fact, the king's insistence that only the finest items be created may have contributed to the difficulties. Only a limited number of European nobility could afford the extravagant prices demanded for such works. King Louis XV and eventually his heir, the ill-fated Louis XVI, were obliged to invest heavily in the enterprise. Ultimately, the Sevres Porcelain Factory produced items under the name of "Royal" and thus the well-known Sevres mark was born. King Louis XV even mandated laws that severely restricted other porcelain production in France so as to retain a near monopoly for his Sevres Porcelain. The king even willingly became chief salesman for the finest of his products, hosting an annual New Year's Day showing for French nobility in his private quarters at Versailles. He eagerly circulated among potential buyers, pitching the merits of ownership and policing the occasional light-fingered guest. Sevres Porcelain may have indeed given the makers of Meissen and Dresden a run for their money by the end of the 18th Century but for the French Revolution. By 1800, the Sevres Porcelain Works were practically out of business due to the economic devastation of the new French Republic. About the time when Napoleon Bonaparte named himself Emperor of France (1804), a new director was named for the Sevres Porcelain Manufactory. Alexandre Brongniart, highly educated in many fields, resurrected Sevres Porcelain. Soft-paste porcelain was eliminated altogether thanks to the earlier discovery of kaolin near Limoges. For four decades until his death, Brongniart presided over monumental progress for Sevres Porcelain, catering not only to Napoleon himself, but at last to include the more financially profitable mid-priced market in the emerging middle class. Our reference: 06146

Details

  • Place of Origin
  • Date of Manufacture
    circa 1870
  • Seller Location
    London, GB
  • Seller Reference Number
    06146
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About the Seller

5 / 5
Vetted
Platinum
Associations: LAPADA - The Association of Arts & Antiques Dealers
1stdibs seller since 2012
Located in London, GB
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