France, Louis XV period
Chased and gilt bronze
Dial signed André Furet à Paris
The white enamelled circular dial, signed “André Furet in Paris”, indicates the hours in Roman numbers and the minutes by five minutes intervals in Arabic numbers with two hands in pierced and gilt brass. The movement is enchased in a small case with rocaille decor entirely realised in finely chased bronze, re pierced and gilt mate gold or dark gold.
The overall is adorned with scrolls, flourished and foliaged branches, emerging on a background with cross-pieces centred with engraved and stylised fleurets around the dial.
Of small size, a little cord, dangling under the cartel clock, enable to operate the ringing mechanism.
An alcove cartel clock
This type of cartel is named alcove cartel or bedside cartel, destined to be placed in rooms. It possesses a ring on demand (“complication mechanism”) which can be activated by pulling the cord. Placed in an alcove above the bed, it permits the sleeper to know the time of the night by pulling the cord, the clock then ringing the last past hour, then the clock rings twice per quarter of an hour. The clock only rings on demand, the rest of the time it is mute, which is practical during the night in a room.
A Rocaille cartel
Developing during the 1720s, the origin of the rocaille ornament has many explanations. Most of the time, the shapes of shells and palms are exposed to explain its genesis. Some thus put forward the idea that rocaille ornament might be the continuation of cave decorations or petrified shapes, which could explain its name. The progress of natural science, the craze of collecting natural curiosities such as madrepore, corals, petrifications and shells, favouriting probably the development of this ornamental repertory characterised by the usage of scrolls, foliages, shells, natural rocks and mineral motifs.
It spreads throughout Europe, in some countries its exuberance went to asymmetry where it was then qualified by the term rococo. In France, it expressed a more sober shape where the symmetry remained the general shape of concerned furniture or bronzes. The gilt bronzes were a field of experimentation particularly in favour of the expression of the rocaille vocabulary going sometimes beyond daring the asymmetry of ornaments, such as illustrates this cartel clock where movements and scrolls are asymmetrical. The French sobriety is indeed honoured on the central dial.
Jean-Baptiste-André Furet (died in 1807)
Probably Jean-Baptiste-André Furet, he is issued from a long dynasty of master clockmakers including his father Jean-André Furet (around 1690 – around 1778) which worked for the court of August II of Saxe.
Jean-Baptiste-André is received master clockmaker in November 1746 and the following year installed rue Saint-Honoré, where he worked with his father and took over his workshop. Around 1784, Furet associated with François-Antoine Godon, such as evidenced by the signature “Furet & Godon” affixed on the movements dated 1785 as well as written invoices to their common names.
However, in 1786, Furet declared a bankrupt. At this stage, he had an impressive stock which contained 98 clocks evaluated collectively to 63,903 gold pounds. The long list of creditors suggests not only that he had subcontractors for part of his work but also it permits to identify a certain number of suppliers.
Amongst them, were the fonders Edme Roy, Luc-Philippe Thomire and François Vion: the cabinetmakers J.B. Grand, called Legrand and S. L. Vandernasse ; the eminent enameller Joseph Coteau as well as C. F. Loire ; the engravers J. F. Cassin and J. B. Hoguet, the maker of springs Rochard and the sculptors Joseph and Ignac Broche.
Today, some examples of work by Furet in the Louvre, Jacquemart-André museums in Chaalis and the municipality of Besançon, the Beaux-Arts in Saint-Omer as well as the Waddesdon Manor, Oxfordshire and the Patrimanio Nacional in Madrid.
Pierre Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française, du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Paris, les éditions de l’amateur, 1997.
Hans Ottomeyer, Peter Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen: die Bronzenarbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, München, Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1986.
Pierre Verlet, Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, édition Picard, 1987.
Tardy, Dictionnaire des horlogers français, première partie A-K, Paris, 1971, pp. 240-241.