Very rare Louis XVI period mantel clock “Allegory of Science” model by Balthazar Lieutaud

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Louis XVI period mantel clock “Allegory of Science” model by Balthazar Lieutaud

A very rare Louis XVI mantel clock after a model by Balthazar Lieutaud (1720-1780) in chased and gilded bronze, representing an allegory of science. Sitting on either side of the clock case we see two boys with numerous scientific instruments and attributes such as a terrestrial globe, a telescope, a protractor, books, parchment and an oil lamp. The boys sit in front of a cabinet on scrolled legs and surmounted by attributes of Mercury, a torch, a wreath and falling oak leaf branches. This cabinet contains the clockwork whose enamel dial carries the signature “BAUDIN A PARIS”. Also the back plate of the clockwork is signed “BAUDIN PARIS”.

The Baudin family of clock makers was active during the reign of Louis XVI. Maker of the movement of this sublime clock is Jacques Baudin who was mentioned as clock maker as early as 1755. Later in 1770 he moved his workshop to Enclos Saint-Denis de la Chartre.

The design of this remarkable mantel clock draws upon the model of Balthazar Lieutaud. There also exist several examples of clocks on a wooden base, stamped “B. Lieutaud” featuring the same design of the cabinet which houses the clockwork. For the addition of the boys in an allegory of science or astronomy, Lieutaud was probably inspired by the then fashionable designs on the same subject of top bronzier of the time Robert Osmond (1711 – 1789).

The clockwork, with indication of both the weekday and the date, is one of the most impressive parts of this clock. It has Roman numeral indexes for the hours and dots and Arabic numerals for the minutes, in black. Further, the days of the week and the date are indicated in red. It has two open worked hands, one silver fleur-de-lis for the hours, one golden with decreasing overlapping crowns, for the minutes. Further, it has two blackened steel arrowheads for the weekday and date. The bezel is highlighted with an interlacing frieze punctuated with pearls.

This magnificent Louis XVI period mantel clock features a rectangular base with a large central projection, adorned with a frieze of foliated and openwork posts, framed by two rosettes, and by two foliated bases with garlands, on the short sides, and with moldings decorated with a laurel torus or a frieze of acanthus leaves, resting on six turned feet.

Details of this Louis XVI period mantel clock “Allegory of Science” model by Lieutaud

This clock presents itself with it’s original mercury gilding in an excellent state of preservation. It’s movement has anchor escapement, twin barrels, silk thread suspension and outside count wheel and strikes the hours and half hours on a bell. The clock is in an exceptional and perfectly working condition and has been serviced by a professional clock maker. The clock comes complete with its pendulum, key and bell.

Paris, Louis XVI period circa 1774.
Dimensions: 38 cm high, 36 cm wide and 18 cm deep.
Weight: 14,8 kg.

Balthazar Lieutaud (1720-1780)

Balthazar Lieutaud  was a master cabinetmaker from a long family tradition, appearing among the greatest cabinetmakers in Paris during the reign of Louis XV and the early neoclassical period during the reign of Louis XVI . Lieutaud became master-cabinetmaker in March 1749 and specialized in luxuriously decorated clock cases for regulators and cartels, for which he entrusts the making of the gilded bronze decorations to the most skilled bronziers and carvers of the time. Lieutaud ran a workshop in the rue de la Pelleterie and later in the rue Denfer.

Literature

  • Tardy, “Dictionnaire des horlogers français”, p. 35.
  • Pierre Kjellberg, “Encyclopédie de la pendule française”, p.189 #B.
  • Christie’s Paris, 19 December 2007.

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