Exquisite French porcelain circe de tonneau clock.

Exquisite French porcelain circe de tonneau clock.
Exquisite French porcelain circe de tonneau clock. Case in hard paste porcelain and fine biscuit porcelain masks and floral swags. Superb quality. 8 day striking movement with lever escapement. 15 inches high by 8 inches wide by 5.5 inches deep ( 37.5 cm by 20 cm by 13.75 cm). France probably circa 1880. Several similar clocks are well known and well documented, see below. 1/ Important and fine quality Louis XVI hard paste and biscuit porcelain Niderviller pendule cercles tournante of eight day duration, signed on the dial plaques Arnould à Nancy, the porcelain case marked in brown on the base with two crowned C’s for the comte de Custine, proprietor of the factory, the two turning dial rings with enamel plaques showing Roman numerals for the hours and Arabic numbers for the minutes with a blued steel pointer to indicate the time. The movement, revealed when lifting the cover, with a very unusual horizontally aligned escape wheel and a vertically aligned anchor, striking on the hour and half hours. The beautiful porcelain shield-shaped case surmounted by a bud finial above biscuit palmettes on a dark blue ground decorated with gilt foliate sprays and swags, the rotating dial ring at the top of the body flanked either side by exquisite biscuit female mask heads above elaborate biscuit floral and foliate festoons hung from knobs centring on either side of the vase by a medallion portraying maritime views with towers, fishing boats and figures within a gilt border against a dark blue ground decorated with gilt foliate sprays and swags, on a spreading circular fluted foot set on a square faux marble porcelain base The case: Niderviller, Lorraine. The movement: Nancy, date circa 1780 Height 30 cm, width 20 cm. Literature:Claire Aptel, “Céramique Lorraine, chef-d’oeuvres des XVIIIe et XIXe siècles”, 1990, p. 137, no. 89, illustrating a similar Niderviller porcelain vase-shaped clock case. Tardy, “Les Plus Belles Pendules Françaises”, 1994, p. 90, illustrating a very similar Niderviller clock case in the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris and p. 93, illustrating another similar Niderviller clock case with white bodied porcelain with movement by Garrigues à Marseille from the collection of G. Hudelot. Pierre Kjellberg, “Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au Xxe Siècle”, 1997, p. 301, pl. D, illustrating a Niderviller vase-shaped clock case of the same design but with a white ground enclosing a landscape medallion with a bridge and ruins, formerly in the Tallec collection. And p. 300, pl. C, illustrating a Niderviller vase-shaped clock case of comparable design but mounted either side with ram’s heads placed lower down the body of the vase and decorated with medallions enclosing putti in the style of François Boucher. Elke Niehüser, “Die Französische Bronzeuhr”, 1997, p. 262, pl. 1267, illustrating a clock case of the same design. Marie-Noël de Gary, “Musée Nissim de Camondo La demeure d’un collectionneur”, 2007, p. 129, illustrating a very similar Niderviller vase-shaped clock case in the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris, accompanied by a pair of companion vases and p. 132 showing another view of the clock and p. 133, showing a detail of one of the mask heads. This magnificent clock case exemplifies the finesse and quality of porcelain produced by the Niderviller factory near Sarrebourg in Lorraine. Several other clocks of the same design but with slightly differing decoration are known, nearly all of which are now in important collections. Amongst them can be cited an example in the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris signed by the clockmaker Arnould père à Nancy which forms a garniture with a pair of companion vases (which lack the female mask heads). Another clock of the same model is now housed in the Musée Historique Lorrain de Nancy (inv. 52.1.1) as is another in the Musée de l’Hôtel Sandelin, Saint-Omer, which has a gold flecked lapis lazuli ground. The Victoria and Albert Museum, London also owns a Niderviller vase of the same basic design though the cover has been lost and the foot has been replaced. Interestingly a clock of this type described as ‘en forme d’une urne’ and attributed to Niderviller was exhibited in a loan exhibition held at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 1929, no. 1002. Although there were several small potteries at Niderviller before the mid eighteenth century it was not until circa 1754 that a factory purchased by baron Jean-Louis de Beyerlé, Directeur de la Monnaie in Strasbourg began producing faience (tin glazed earthenware) with enamel decoration. Using workmen from the Strasbourg factory the style of their products echoed the prevailing taste for Rococo decoration; at first wares, from dishes and plates with pierced basket-work rims and tureens surmounted by sculpted vegetables were only made in faience but from 1765 they began to be made in porcelain but it took another three years before porcelain was produced on a large scale. Because Niderviller was based in the duchy of Lorraine it was exempt from the French laws that protected the monopoly of porcelain production made by the royal Sèvres factory. However when Stanislas I of Lorraine died in 1766, the duchy became the property of the royal crown and as a result the factory was subject to ever tighter restrictions concerning production and decoration. Eventually during 1770-71 Beyerlésold the factory to Adam-Philibert comte de Custine (1740-93, whose marks appear on the base of the clock case). A man of great taste, an innovator and entrepreneur, Custine tended to ignore many of the former restrictions and so under his control Niderviller managed to produce many outstanding pieces whose originality and high quality often rivalled those made by Sèvres. His successful venture was aided by his manager the chemist Claude-François Lanfrey who put new life into the factory by the diversification of materials, designs and decorations. Under his direction and Custine’s ownership the factory created a number of trompe l’oeil faience pieces especially those imitating the effect of wood known as décor bois. They also created a number of statuettes in both porcelain and faience from models made by Charles-Gabriel Lemire and after 1780 those by Paul-Louis Cyfflé which again rivalled those by Sèvres as does the present clock case. As one of the many victims of the French Revolution the comte de Custine was guillotined in 1793, after which Niderviller was acquired by his former manager Claude-François Lanfrey who ran the concern until his death in 1827. During the late nineteenth century many of the eighteenth century mould were revived. The factory still continues in production today though rarely has it produced objects of such beauty and originality as the present and comparable examples. It appears that with the exception of one fitted with a movement by Garrigues à Marseille (cited by Tardy) most of these cases were supplied to the clockmaker Nicolas Arnould. Born in Pulligny, France, by 1852 he was living in Nancy when his marriage there was witnessed by a fellow clockmaker Joseph-François Barbe. Tardy notes that Nicolas Arnould submitted clocks into a lottery in 1860 and referred to one of the similar Niderviller porcelain vase-shaped clocks being signed Arnould père.

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