1820 Continental

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The design attributed to Louis-Francois Jeannest. To be executed in gilt bronze and verde antiquo marble; silvered metal dial

The king's bust, probably after Bartholemy Prieur, on a plinth fronted by the French chivalric Order of St Michael, the collar of the order forming the bezel to the dial suspending its insignia, a medallion of the saint overcoming the dragon 20in. High

The Jeannest who is credited with this design might be the early nineteenth century sculptor, Louis-Francois Jeannest, who (as is discussed in the Introduction, p. XXX) was a leading member of the Association des Fabricants de Bronzes and, besides exhibiting at the Paris Salons, worked in association with bronziers.

Henri IV (reigned 1589/94-1610) was the first king of the Bourbon dynasty in France. Raised as a Huguenot he had to become Catholic in order to ascend the French throne, famously commenting that "Paris is worth a Mass". Henri IV was the most popular of French kings and his cult was much in vogue towards the end of the 18th century. As the Bourbons' founding father, he was a natural symbol of legitimacy for the restoration of the Bourbons after the defeat of Napoleon in 1814-15, and his cult was rekindled to emphasize Louis XVIII's role as a reunifying bringer of peace and as a king close to his people. Thus several clocks with the image of Henri, who had also to struggle to ascend the throne, date from the Restauration period. The Ordre de Saint-Michel was founded by Louis XI on August 1, 1469. Louis XI had a particular devotion to the saint, but additionally St. Michael with his imagery of vanquishing the Devil could serve as a useful allegory for the then recent expulsion of the English from France. That allegory could now be freshly directed in the Restauration period to indicate the unseating of Napoleon. The order's collar consisted of a repeated 'S' interspersed with cockleshells, the so-called cocquilles de Saint Michel as distinct from the cocquilles de Saint Jacques, the pilgrims' emblem. The medallion suspended from the chain shows the saint vanquishing the Devil in the form of a dragon. The order was originally restricted to 36 members, but this had become so relaxed that Louis XVI cut the numbers down to 100 in 1665.

A clock exactly modelled on this design, and of the same height, executed completely in patinated bronze except for the order of St. Michael in gilt bronze, the dial signed Blanc Fils, Palais Royal, sold at Sotheby's Amsterdam, February 21, 1995, lot 161 (illus.). It is described as mounted with crowned fleur de lys to the sides. Another design for a Henri IV clock is illustrated in Ottomeyer & Preschel, I, 378, fig. 5.15.17.
Height 68.00 cm (26.77 inches)
Width 50.80 cm (20.00 inches)
Watercolour and gouache over lithographic line, on laid paper
Inscribed: Jeannest invt. / Imprie Lithoie de C. Motte rue des Marais Numbered: 7
Charles Plante Fine Arts

Charles Plante Fine Arts
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