The ovoid body surmounted by two seated nymphs holding laurel garlands surrounding the dial, the pierced guilloche collar surmounted by a domed acanthus cover with pine cone finial, the later enameled dial and backplate signed 'Lepaute / Horloger du Roi', possibly spurious; together with a fitted oak case
1912 in. (49.5 cm.) high, 11 in. (28 cm.) wide, 834 in. (22 cm.) deep
Almost certainly The Collection of Mme. Camille Lelong; Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 11-15 May 1903, lot 866.
Émile Dacier, 'L’antiquaire de l’île Saint-Louis', Revue de l’art ancien et moderne, April 1903, pp. 241-254, illustrated p. 243.
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Lot Essay

Designed in the bold goût grec of the mid-1770s and with distinctive figures en arabesques or siren mounts in the manner of Etienne-Maurice Falconet (d. 1791), this clock was likely originally flanked by vases forming a clock-garniture. A nearly identical example, almost certainly the same as the present lot, was sold from the Collection of Mme C. Lelong; Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 11-15 May 1903, lot 866. Illustrated in the catalog at the time, the piece previously appeared to possess a further pierced base (now apparently lost) and a slightly different dial; however, the winding holes are located in the same place, and the green Sèvres body appears unique amongst the other known models. Most other examples of the form appear with blue porcelain bodies, such as examples sold Christie’s, London, 13 June 2002, lot 5 (£40,000), and Christie's, London, 13-14 July 1927, lot 200. A closely related vase with blue body and identical siren mounts is located in The James A. de Rothschild Collection in the Morning Room at Waddesdon Manor (see G. de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor: Furniture, Clocks and Gilt-Bronzes, Fribourg, 1974, vol. II, no. 208, pp. 774-5); and two more of the same were sold in the Alexander Collection; Christie’s, New York, 30 April 1999, lot 95 ($717,500) (later sold again in The Dimitri Mavrommatis Collection; Sotheby's, London, 8 July 2008, lot 60 for £825,250), and the Founès Collection; Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 27 June 1935, lot 88.

The nymph mounts on this eye-catching clock relate to the work of the ciseleur-doreur François Rémond (maître in 1774), who often worked in collaboration with the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre. Rémond often incorporated such figures en arabesques in his work, which also featured on a pair of candelabra carried by figures en arabesques, supplied to Princess Kinsky in 1788 through Daguerre. The nymphs are also notably similar to the female figures on a chandelier in the Great Drawing Room at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. The gilt and blued-bronze piece is attributed to François Rémond, and was presented in 1808 by Napoleon to his trusted statesman Jean-Jacques de Cambacérès. Daguerre also supplied a chandelier with analogous female figures to the marquis de Laborde for the château de Méréville (sold in the Collection of M. Hubert de Givenchy; Christie’s, Monaco, 4 December 1993, lot 40).

Madame Camille Lelong (née Laurentine-Françoise Bernage) (1840-1902) was a distinguished Parisian collector and dealer in art and antiques. Mme Lelong owned the Hôtel Rouillé de Meslay on the Quai de Béthune, a quaint street along the southern edge of the Ile Saint-Louis (see Georges Riat and A. Teixeira de Mattos, ‘Paris Sales’, The Burlington Gazette, London, August 1903, vol. 1, no. 5, pp. 153-155). She was known to have acquired a vast amount of magnificent works, including a great number of eighteenth-century furniture. With her keen eye, charm and self-assuredness, Mme Lelong would only part with her objets d’art if she felt she was being properly compensated; as such, she has been variously described as a merchant, a collector and a hoarder (see Émile Dacier, 'L’antiquaire de l’île Saint-Louis', Revue de l’art ancien et moderne, April 1903, p. 243). She also, purportedly, abstained frequently from heating her premises due to the risk of a fire; and regardless of the veracity of that claim, did die of pneumonia in 1902.

The subsequent sales of her collection in the spring and summer of 1903 by Galerie Georges Petit were written about extensively both in France and abroad, and were very popular—part of the burgeoning trend of fashionable society auctions, which performed extremely well and drove up prices. But Mme Lelong’s sale was so extensive and of such high caliber that in 1903 French art historian Émile Dacier predicted that: “Undoubtedly, most of [the objects] will take their place in a few palaces on Fifth Avenue, but we would be hard pressed to regret it beyond measure; since they will tell grandsons of billionaire trustmen how we too have been rich, rich in grace, distinction, elegance, refinement, rich in taste, rich in spirit” (see ibid., p. 254).

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