Monumental clock representing “The Hours supporting the Celestial Vault” in white marble, yellow marble and alabaster representing three young girls draped with their arms raised to support a garland of flowers on which the celestial vault rests. The Hours are figures from Greek mythology, daughters of Zeus and Temi and considered the guardians of Olympus. Three in number in Greek mythology, Eunomia, Dike and Irene, symbolize the regular passage of time in the alternation of seasons (spring, summer and autumn merged, winter). Represented side by side on an oval base, they support a large alabaster sphere on which appear the gold stars and the 12 signs of the zodiac in bas-relief. The sphere has a dial engraved and painted in gold with Roman numerals and, on the back, a door that allows access to the movement of the clock, signed J J Lepaute in Paris 18/x.13 +10. Movement with wire suspension and strike on the hour and half hour.
Paris, circa 1810.
Height cm 70
Base cm 28 x 24
The model of pendulum with female figures supporting the movement enclosed in a sphere is dear to the Lepaute production. Our model, in particular, is comparable to the monumental clock with the “Quatre Muses des Heures” in white marble made by the Lepautes in 1791 with a case by Jacques-Philippe Le Sueur for the Folie Beaujon, built between 1781 and 1783 for the banker of the king and the court Nicolas Beaujon (1718-1786), on the plans of the architect Nicolas Girardin. It was the fashionable architecture of the time – a folly with gallant little apartments, secret staircases and hidden doors. It was sold in 1796 to Ignace Vanlerberghe, who had become a wealthy supplier of grain and fodder to the armies of the Republic and then of Napoleon. As shown in an engraving published in 1801 by Kraft and Ransonnette, the four Graces clock is already placed in one of the two circular tower-shaped pavilions.
Bibliography: – TARDY, La Pendule française, 2nd part, Paris, 1969. – LAMI, S., Dictionary of sculptors from the French School in the eighteenth century, Paris, 1911, pages 78 to 82. – KRAFT and RANSONNETTE, Plans, sections, elevations of the most beautiful houses and buildings in France,
The Lepaute house was founded in 1748 by JEAN-ANDRÉ LEPAUTE (1720-87/9) and JEAN-BAPTISTE LEPAUTE (1727-1821)-
Since its foundation, Maison Lepaute has maintained the highest reputation among the greatest French watchmaking houses. Successive generations of the Lepaute family ran the business which enjoyed considerable success during the 18th and early 19th centuries. The business began in 1748 when Jean-André and his brother Jean-Baptiste established a clock manufacturing business in Paris. They were named “Horlogers du Roi”, making a number of fine clocks for the Louvre, Paris. Jean-André also built several public clocks in Paris, one of which at the Ecole Royale Militaire is still in working order. He also made several technical advances in the field of watchmaking. When he retired in 1774, his brother, Jean-Baptiste associated his nephews, Pierre-Henry (1745 – 1806) and Pierre-Basile Lepaute (1750 – 1843). Pierre-Henry retired in 1798, then Pierre-Basile went into partnership with his nephew, Jean-Joseph Lepaute (1768 – 1846). They were joined by Pierre-Basile’s son, Pierre-Michel (d. 1849), c. 1811, the company is renamed Lepaute et Fils, established in prestigious premises in the Place du Palais Royal in Paris.
Jean-Joseph Lepaute, born in Bièves, France was a major figure within the family business. Like his great-uncle and company founder, he was a superb craftsman. He was appointed watchmaker to Napoleon. In 1813, he made a clock for the Palace of Fontainebleau; he built clocks for other important residences, including the Château de Saint-Cloud and the Château de Comilègne. Also, he made many other beautiful household clocks. In 1821, he was appointed official watchmaker of Paris, responsible in particular for the maintenance and repair of all the public clocks in the city. Towards the end of his career, he worked closely with another important member of the family business Augustin-Michel-Henry Lepaute (1800-1885), the son of Pierre-Henry. Augustin-Michel-Henry was appointed watchmaker to Louis-Philippe and Napoleon III. He made the clocks for the Palais de Justice in Paris and the Marseille Stock Exchange. Two of his regulators are in the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers in Paris while one of his gold watches can be seen in the Guildhall in London.
Complete pendulum movement and original winding key. Some old restorations on the back of the sphere.