Going train with pinwheel “coup perdu” escapement. Countwheel striking sounding the hours after the musical train’s melody and sounding single strikes on half hours.
The signed enamelled dial features Roman numerals for the hours and Arabic numerals marking five-minute intervals. Signed on the front: “Ragot à Paris”; on the movement: “Ragot au Temple, 1768”; on the reverse of the dial: “Barbezat”.
Musical train featuring 8 melodies and automatic switching. Three levers allow the musical train to be turned on and off, the melody switching to be enabled or disabled, and the musical train to be muted.
Standing on an ebonised plinth supported by four gilt bronze clawed feet and decorated with gilt bronze ornaments, the impressive case is flanked by two putti representing day and night. Day, or renewed life, carries a burning torch, while Night – eternity – holds a lamp. A cockerel stands on top, commonly used to personify France and a symbol of watchfulness.
At the bottom is a row of baluster-shaped columns, with red velvet at the back. The openwork sections in the middle have been rendered with diagonally arranged, stylised flower motifs covered with red velvet on the reverse. The openwork sections serve to improve the audibility of the musical train. The case is decorated with various meander patterns, stylised foliage and flower motifs.
The cockerel came to symbolise France as a result of wordplay: the Latin name “Gallus” means both “cockerel” and “Gallic.” Since 1830, the symbol has been formally adopted as the official symbol of France and must among others be depicted on the National Guard’s flagpoles.
In the bronze case the mania of Robert Osmond (1711-1789) can unmistakably be recognized. French bronze-caster Robert Osmond was born in Canisy, near Saint-Lô; he began his apprenticeship in the workshop of Louis Regnard, maître fondeur en terre et en sable, and became a master bronzier in Paris in 1746. He is recorded as working in the rue des Canettes in the St Sulpice parish, moving to the rue de Mâcon in 1761. Robert Osmond became a juré, thus gaining a certain degree of protection of his creative rights. In 1753, he sent for his nephew in Normandy, and in 1761, the workshop, which by that time had grown considerably, moved to the rue de Macon. The nephew, Jean-Baptiste Osmond (1742-after 1790) became a master in 1764 and as of that date worked closely with his uncle, to such a degree that it is difficult to differentiate between the contributions of each.
Robert appears to have retired around 1775. Jean-Baptiste, who remained in charge of the workshop after the retirement of his uncle, encountered difficulties and went bankrupt in 1784. Robert Osmond died in 1789.
Prolific bronze casters and chasers, the Osmonds worked with equal success in both the Louis XV and the Neo-classical styles. Prized by connoisseurs of the period, their work was distributed by clockmakers and marchands-merciers. Although they made all types of furnishing objects, including fire dogs, wall lights and inkstands, the only extant works by them are clocks, including one depicting the Rape of Europe (Getty Museum, California) in the Louis XV style and two important Neo-classical forms, of which there are several examples, as well as a vase with lions' heads (Musée Condé, Chantilly and the Cleveland Museum of Art) and a cartel-clock with chased ribbons (examples in the Stockholm Nationalmuseum; Paris, Nissim de Camondo Museum). A remarkable clock decorated with a globe, cupids and a Sèvres porcelain plaque (Paris, Louvre) is another of their notable works.
Specialising at first in the rocaille style, in the early 1760’s they turned to the new Neo-classical style and soon numbered among its greatest practitioners. They furnished cases to the best clockmakers of the period, such as Montjoye, for whom they made cases for cartonnier and column clocks, the column being one of the favourite motifs of the Osmond workshop.
La Pendulerie, Paris
Private collection, Amsterdam