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French Louis XVI pendule after a design by Vion

French Louis XVI pendule after a design by Vion

An exquisite French Louis XVI pendule clock  after a design by Vion. The eight-day movement has an eight-day going movement with tic-tac escapement and strikes the half- and full hours on a bell. A small knob on the left of the enamel dial for the striking mechanism. Two asymmetrically positioned winding holes. The hours are indicated by Roman numerals, the minutes by Arabic numerals. The clock is signed Ch. le Roy Paris on the backplate of the movement and Charles le Roy à Paris on the dial. Dated Octobre 8, 1771 on the reverse. The spring of the striking mechanism also bears this date.

This lavish Louis XVI mantel clock features a red marbled obelisk raised on paw feet. The obelisk is embellished with a gilt bronze appliqué with military motifs and topped by a royal crown with fleur-de-lis on a cushion. Two patinated figurines of putti on rockery flank the dial. On the left, a putto wearing a plumed helmet with a lionhead sits before a palm tree, a cornucopia filled with crowns and other princely decorations in his hands. The other putto leans against a tree trunk with a laurel wreath over his left arm.
The set is mounted on a gilt base adorned with volutes and floral motifs and rests on four gilt bun feet.

This mantel clock, known as ‘A la Gloire des Princes’ was made several times and a few versions bear the inscription on the obelisk: PRINCIPUM DECUS, i.e. ‘To the Glory of the Sovereign’. The clock is after the design by the fondeur François Vion, published around 1770 in his Livre de desseins, now in the Bibliothèque Doucet, Paris.

François Vion (c. 1737-ca. 1790) was one of the most renowned bronziers of his time. He became maître in 1764 and was specialised in clock cases. The clocks are generally small in size and are distinguished by the uniqueness of their design and the particularly high-quality finish and degree of detailing. Designs including animals are common in his oeuvre. Many of Vion’s clocks found their way into royal collections.

Charles le Roy (1709- 2 October 1771) became maître horloger in 1733. He initially concentrated on pocket watch movements until the production of pocket clockworks plummeted around 1760. Charles le Roy ran a workshop where he worked with his son Etienne-Augustin (1737- after 1792), who became maître in 1758 and was later appointed 'Horloger du Roi' by King Louis XVI. After his father's death in 1771, Etienne-Augustin le Roy took over the workshop and continued to sign the clocks with his father's name.

A similar obelisk mantel clock is depicted in Pierre Kjellberg's La pendule Française (p. 242, ill. A) and was formerly in the collection of Pascal Izarn. This clock now resides in the Horace Wood Brock Collection in New York.

Pierre Kjellberg, La pendule Française, 1997, p. 242-243
Martin P. Levy and Clifford S. Ackley, Splendor and Elegance, 2009, p. 83

French Louis XVI pendule after a design by Vion
Price on request
Private collection Belgium
ormolu and patinated bronze, marbled obelisk, enamel dial
Charles le Roy à Paris
46.5 x 20 x 11 cm

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