A rare and important Directoire gilt bronze and marble chariot clock of eight day duration by Jean-Simon Deverberie, with Roman numerals and blued steel Breguet hands for the hours and minutes set within the wheel of a chariot which is cast at centre with twelve foliate and fluted spokes set at 5 minute intervals. The movement with anchor escapement, silk thread suspension, striking on the hour and half hour, with outside count wheel.
The magnificent case representing the figure of Apollo seated in his chariot holding upon his knee his lyre with its double serpent border, wearing a laurel leaf crown, Roman sandals and drapery around his loins that billows behind him, his golden chariot ornamented with laurel leaf borders and mounted with a female caryatid herm as well as eagle head on the arm rests and with hanging drapery below, with a lion head at the back of the chariot and at the prow the head of Marsyas mounted either side with a rosette, upon which stands on one foot the figure of the young winged Mercury, holding a caduceus in his right hand and like Apollo, holding reins attached to a pair of horses that pull the chariot onward, each horse with a flowing mane and tail, wearing a lambrequin saddle cloth and yoked by a Vitruvian scroll decorated harness as it rears on its hind legs while setting across the skies, the chariot and horses on a rectangular plinth with a frieze cast with acanthus scrolls issuing fruit and foliage, supported on eight toupie feet
This truly magnificent chariot clock or pendule au char was made by Jean-Simon Deverberie (1764-1824), who worked in Paris initially from rue Barbet au Marais (sometime spelled Barbette on other of his dials) and was the maker of another almost identical clock (illustrated in Augarde and Kjellberg op. cit.). The signature on the latter clock reads: Inv. et fait par Deverberie rue Barbet au Marais, Paris and thus very slightly varies with the present signature but like the very best of Deverberie's clocks it features his name and address. Likewise, there are slight variations between the present clock and that illustrated in Augarde.
While the exact date of when Deverberie became a maître bronzier is unrecorded, we know that he was working as a caster in 1788 and that he married Marie Louise Verron but never had children. Charlotte Vignon's article notes that he may have been the same Deverberie who specialised as a watchcase maker and that after the abolition of the guilds in 1791, he opened a bronze casting and clock factory with Jean George Hertzog. Having been established at rue Barbet au Marais, Deverberie then moved to rue des Fossés du Temple where he ran the firm of Deverberie et Cie. The lifting of the guild regulations during the French Revolution allowed casters, who during the ancient règime were strictly limited to working in bronze, to now develop factories of their own. Deverberie was one such man who took advantage of this freedom so that now all stages of the bronze making process, from casting, gilding, assembly and retail could occur in one workshop.
Although Deverberie's chariot clocks continue to be among his most prized pieces, he is probably better known for his series of clock cases, known as pendules au nègre or pendules au bon sauvage, notably those portraying female personification of Africa or America, which as a subject epitomised late eighteenth century European society's fascination with the exotic, unadulterated and untamed natural world. As such they could be seen as representing a new mythological Golden Age as opposed to chariot clocks, which focused upon the mythology of the ancient classical world.
Private collevction, The Netherlands
Pierre Kjellberg, l'encyclopedie de la pendule française du moyenne-age du XXe siècle, Paris, 1997
Jean-Dominique Augarde, Les Ouvriers du Temps; la Pendule á Paris de Louis XIV á Napoleon 1e, Paris, 1996