France, Louis XV period
Dial signed De Hémant A PARIS
Attributed to Robert Osmond (171-1789)
- Charles André Caron (1697-1775), clockmaker, Robert Osmond (1711-1789), bronze, Pendule au génie de la musique, delivered for Madame Adélaïde at Versailles, in 1757, Paris, Dépôt du Mobilier national au château de Versailles (GML 11320)
- Attributed to Robert Osmond, Pendule au génie de la musique, circa 1755, Paris, old collection Bensimon, private collection
- Attributed to Robert Osmond, Pendule au génie de la musique, circa 1755, old collection Castiglioni, private collection
- Lepaute, clockmaker, Robert Osmond, bronzer, Pendule au vase, clockmaker, Paris, circa 1755-1760, private collection
The circular and enamelled dial signed De Hemant à Paris indicates the hours in Roman numbers and the minutes intervals of five in Arabic numbers with two gild and pierced bronze hands. It is inscripted in a grooved case of violin shape in chased and gilt bronze flanked by agrafs and foliaged scrolls. The sides are adorned of pierced motifs leaving the sound of the timber ringing and is drawned with scrolls and foliages. The inferior part of the front presents a music trophy with partitions and instruments, retained by a ribbon on the central part. The ending is decorated with a child figure holding a lyra. The overall rests on a rocaille terrace embellished with rushes and vegetals.
A model by Osmond
The original composition of this mantel clock could be compared to the production of the bronzer Robert Osmond, in particular the clock delivered by the clockmaker Charles André Caron for Madame Adélaïde at Versailles in 1757, today preserved at the château de Versailles (GML 11320). The latter is thus described in the entry of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne:
« Du 18 juin 1757 / Livré par le S. Caron horloger / Pour servir à Madame Adelaïde de France à Versailles. N° 68. Une pendule à sonnerie et boete de bronze doré d’or moulu couronnée d’un enfant tenant une lyre cizelée, ornée par le bas d’un livre et de divers instruments de musique ; le cadran d’émail de 5 pouces de diamètre, haute de 17 pouces ½, derrière la boete est une petite aiguille servant de pièce de silence, pour arrêter la sonnerie ; dans un étui de cuir noir à double main et fermant à clef.»
If the lyra holded by the child has disappeared on the model preserved at Versailles, it is indeed present on our clock which corresponds to the model as described before.
Robert Osmond (1711-1789)
Born in Normandy, at Canisy, near Saint-Lô, in 1711, Robert Osmond made his apprenticeship in the workshop of Louis Regnard, maître fondeur en terre et en sable and was received Maître fondeur-ciseleur in 1746. Reputed by his pairs, he was named jury of his corporation in 1756.
In 1753, his nephew Jean-Baptiste Osmond (1742-after 1790) left Normandy to join him. The latter, received Master in 1764, worked after this date with his uncle; their collaboration was so strong that it is difficult to distinguish the contributions of one another. The activity of Robert Osmond lies between the end of the 1740s and the middle of the 1770s, because in 1781 he was designated as ancient Maître fondeur. Jean-Baptiste, who continued to direct the workshop after the farewell of his uncle had then difficulties and bankrupted in 1784. His uncle Robert died in 1789.
Prolific bronzers and chisellers illustrated first in the rocaille style, at the beginning of the 1760s, the Osmond knew how to adapt to the new neoclassical style. While they produced all sorts of bronze furniture (firedogs, wall-lights and inkstand), they are well known for leaving their name on a large number of clocks and cartels, which movements were entrusted toe the greatest clockmakers of the time such as Jacques-André Lepaute, Ferdinand Berthoud, Julien Le Roy, Robert Robin. These pieces were particularly successful with the big collectors and aristocrats. Thus, the famous financer Beaujon and the Duke of Choiseul-Praslin had in their possession clocks and cartel clocks of his production. Working also for one of the greatest marchand mercier of the 18th century, Mr. Lazare-Duvaux, they delivered to Louis XV, by his intermediary, pieces destined for the châteaux de Saint-Hubert et des Tuileries.
This clock, of a model tracible to the middle of the 1750s is characteristic of the transition style of de Robert Osmond at this period, where, progressively, he left out the rocaille shape in the mind of Nicolas Pineau or Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier to head for more simple shapes. Thus, this clock is still in a violin shape and is described as it is in the rocaille spirit, it presents with a symmetrical structure illustrating the early settle down of forms that confirms an almost identical clock reproduced in the book of Hans Ottomeyer et Peter Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, p. 542, where a precursor vase of the neoclassical taste replaced the figure of the allegory at the top of this one.
 It was, under the Old regime, the administration responsible for the management of furniture and works of art intended for the decoration of royal residences.
 From the 18th of June 1757 / Delivered by the Sir Caron clockmaker / To serve to Madame Adélaïde of France, at Versailles. N°68. A clock with tones and case of molded gilt bronze surmounted by a child holding a chiseled lyra, adorned by the bottom with a book and diverse musical instruments; the enameled dial of 5 inches of diameter, height of 17 inches ½, behind the case is a small hand serving as a silence piece, to stop the ringing; in a black leather case with two holders and closing with a key.
 The qualification of “wax casting” does not exist before the beginning of the 20th century. Most of the founder of Old regime qualifies as “fondeur en sable et en terre”.
 This means that he did not have the material necessary to cast his pieces.
 In the 18th century, marchand mercier were merchants of works of art and intermediary between clients and producers from whom they were the patrons.