Showing posts with label clocks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clocks. Show all posts

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Norfolk Clock....


One of the more unusual pieces of treasure Peter and I managed to smuggle back in one piece from the UK on our trip was a PH Mourey mantle clock. It was one of those marvelously recherche finds - we had just pulled into the small village of Holt in North Norfolk on our way to Houghton Hall, for a bite of brunch and to stretch our legs. To our surprise this randomly chosen sleepy village could have been something out of Midsommer, with its perfectly manicured streets full of bakeries, boutiques, bistros and no less than eight antique dealers!

And thus it was that we came across the clock in one of the dealer's. It was the sort of piece which when One comes across One looks longingly at and then moves on in an 'íf only' moment, then - after a few hours shopping and a liquid lunch - One returns and manages to articulate compelling reasons why One simply ought to take it home! Peter has a lovely phrase that he uses when I am looking at things -"Darling, it is only expensive on the day that you buy it" (I believe a nun used to tell him that about her shoes!)

Philippe Henri Mourey (1840-1910) was a 19th century clock designer and case maker. He was an exceptional artist when it came to the art of ormolu (gilded bronze) clock design, and worked very closely with several of Paris' leading clock makers of the time. His most famous relationship was with Japy Freres & Co. He specialised in the Louis XV-XVI style of clock, decorated with rococo and classical motifs on porcelain panels in the Sevres style, and also in using marble and alabaster. We have two other PH Mourey clocks in our collection of about 30 clocks (Peter and I both collected clocks before we met. I collected gilded mantle clocks of an ornate fashion, and Peter collected grandfather clocks, station clocks and carriage clocks, all of which I am sure will be the subjects of posts to come)...

Above: A black marble and ormolu Mourey found in Christchurch about a year before the earthquake. 

Below: A white alabaster and ormolu Mourey found in Lostwithiel, Cornwall.

The garnitures, if any existed, were not with the Norfolk clock. The pale blue porcelain panels do not suit the darker Sevres garnitures we found a couple of years ago, which is a pity, but the clock would be flanked well by one of our pairs of ormolu candelabra. However, given that the clock is destined for the China Room, I am on the look out for a lovely pair of pale blue Sevres plates, similar to those below, to flank the clock...


It might be nice to find some other Sevres pieces for The China Room (Sevres has grown on me since the previous posts). Here are a few other pale blue pieces which are quite nice...


The China Room started out as a Card Room, with the walls decorated to resemble a giant Wedgwood plate (as most of our collectible china at the time was Wedgwood), however, the collection has diversified, and although the room is still designed to look like a Wedgwood box, the card table has been moved to the Gold Drawing Room, and replaced with a round Chippendale table - suitable for a high tea with fine china!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What a load of old Boulle...




Carrying on the French theme of artisans of the court of Louis XIV-XV, I thought I would write a small post on the exquisite marquetry work of André-Charles Boulle, and his école.

Today the name Boulle is synonymous with his distinctive style of inlaid furniture. His career started in 1666 as a master cabinetmaker. In1672 the king granted him the royal privilege of an apartment in the Palais du Louvre. Later that year, he became 'Cabinetmaker and sculptor to Louis XIV, king of France'. This new title allowed him to produce furniture as well as works in gilt bronze such as chandeliers, wall lights, and mounts. Although strict guild rules usually prevented craftsmen from practicing two professions simultaneously, Boulle's favoured position exempted him from these impositions.

He devoted himself to creating expensive and time-consuming furniture and objects d'art with brass and pewter inlays for the king and court. He specialized in the inlaying of ebony with precious woods and mother-of-pearl. Large areas were covered with tortoiseshell, inlaid with filigrees of gilded brass. He added splendid bas-relief compositions, as well as sculptured rosettes, masks, and acanthus scrolls, all in gilded bronze.

Although he did not invent this style of marquetry, he devised a new process by cutting out patterns from these materials. He thus obtained two panels: the “part” and the “counterpart”. The first was in copper on a background of tortoiseshell, the second in tortoiseshell on a background of copper. This usually meant that there were two complimentary pieces of furniture made with each corresponding part and counterpart.



Above and Below:

A Boulle régence styled clock and pedestal in the Lord Cowell collection.


Boulle-made original pieces were considered highly fashionable and were prized in France in the late 17th century and throughout the 18th century. Given their popularity, in the last half of the 19th century, modern machine techniques were utilized to enable the creation of large quantities of furniture in the Boulle style.

Superb examples of his art exist at Versailles, Fontainebleau, and the Louvre and in England at Windsor Castle and in the Wallace Collection, London. The title cabinetmaker to the king passed to his four sons, Jean Philippe, Pierre Benoît, André Charles, and Charles Joseph.

Many of his designs are illustrated in a book of engravings published around 1720. Boulle's pieces, having in general the character of Louis XIV and régence design, were built for the immense formal rooms of the period. In 1684-1692, the Grand Dauphin commissioned in Boulle marquetry the panelling and parquet of his study in Versailles, lost in the 18th century.

Above: Candelabra stands

Above: A Boulle Ink Well

Below: One of the many Boulle-styled clocks after a rococo fashion




Above and Below: Typical consoles in his style.




More Boulle pedestals...

and a Regency drum table...

He was by no means the first craftsman to practice the delicate art of marquetry, nor was he the inventor of the inlay of brass or pewter and tortoiseshell which is associated with his name; but no artist, before or since, has created works of such astonishing skill.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sèvres Porcelain...


Some of you will recall my fondness for Wedgwood China (Post One and Two). I do collect other styles of china as well, and have recently come into possession of two Sevres-style porcelain and ormolu garnitures. They would have originally belonged to a clock with matching porcelain panels. Alas, the clock was not with the garnitures when I found them.

I had never really been a huge fan of Sevres, finding much of it, like Limoges, slightly twee and gaudy. However, somehow these two ended up coming home with me on a recent sojourn and are now in the drawing room...



This prompted me to look further into the provenance of the items. They are stamped and dated as early 19th century pieces. They are definitely not as fine as some Sevres garnitures...






and the Sevres clocks that go with them...






The history of Sevres porcelain starts in 1738 when the Marquis Orry de Fulvy, brother of the Minister of Finance, obtained a licence to manufacture Saxon styled porcelain

At that time the brothers Dubois, who were arcanists that fled from Chantilly, had already experimented to produce porcelain at the Chateau de Vincennes. Together with Gravant, they succeeded to produce a type of soft paste frit-porcelain around 1745.

Read more about Sevres Porcelain | History of Sevres Porcelain by www.antique-marks.com

Sevres porcelain history starts in 1738 when the Marquis Orry de Fulvy, brother of the Minister of Finance, obtained from the French king Louis XV a licence to manufacture porcelain in the Saxon manner

At that time the brothers Dubois, who were arcanists that fled from Chantilly, had already experimented to produce porcelain at the Chateau de Vincennes. Together with Gravant, they succeeded to produce a type of soft paste frit-porcelain around 1745.

Read more about Sevres Porcelain | History of Sevres Porcelain by www.antique-marks.com

Sevres porcelain history starts in 1738 when the Marquis Orry de Fulvy, brother of the Minister of Finance, obtained from the French king Louis XV a licence to manufacture porcelain in the Saxon manner

At that time the brothers Dubois, who were arcanists that fled from Chantilly, had already experimented to produce porcelain at the Chateau de Vincennes. Together with Gravant, they succeeded to produce a type of soft paste frit-porcelain around 1745.

Read more about Sevres Porcelain | History of Sevres Porcelain by www.antique-marks.com

Sevres porcelain history starts in 1738 when the Marquis Orry de Fulvy, brother of the Minister of Finance, obtained from the French king Louis XV a licence to manufacture porcelain in the Saxon manner

At that time the brothers Dubois, who were arcanists that fled from Chantilly, had already experimented to produce porcelain at the Chateau de Vincennes. Together with Gravant, they succeeded to produce a type of soft paste frit-porcelain around 1745.

Read more about Sevres Porcelain | History of Sevres Porcelain by www.antique-marks.com

from Louis XV.

Sevres Porcelain traces its roots in France to early craftsmen in Lille, Rouen. St. Cloud, and most notably Chantilly. In 1738 the workers from Chantilly migrated to the Chateau de Vincennes near Paris and formed a larger porcelain factory. French King Louis XV, perhaps inspired by his mistress Madame de Pompadour, took an intense interest in porcelain and moved the operation in 1756 to an even larger quarters in the Parisian suburb of Sevres. Sevres was also conveniently near the home of Madame de Pompadour, Chateau de Bellevue, built in 1750, and the King's own Palace at Versailles.


From the outset the king's aim was to produce Porcelain that surpassed the established Saxony works of Meissen and Dresden. Though the French lacked an ample supply of kaolin, a required ingredient for hard-paste porcelain (pate dure), their soft-paste porcelain (pate tendre) was fired at a lower temperature and was thus compatible with a wider variety of colors and glazes that in many cases were richer and more vivid.

Unglazed white Sevres Porcelain biscuit (twice fired) figurines were also popular. However, soft-paste Sevres Porcelain was more easily broken. Therefore, early pieces of Sevres Porcelain that remain intact have become rare indeed.

Despite the popularity of the pieces nowadays, the Sevres Porcelain factory suffered financial hardship on many occasions. In part this may have been due to the king's insistence that only the finest items be created - as only a limited number of European nobility could afford the extravagant prices demanded for such works. King Louis XV and his heir, invested heavily in the Sevres enterprise. In the end, the Sevres factory produced items by royal warrant and thus the well-known Sevres mark was born. King Louis XV even enacted laws that severely restricted other porcelain production in France to try to create a monopoly for his Sevres Porcelain. The king even hosted an annual New Year's Day showing for French nobility in his private quarters at Versailles and encouraged them to purchase the pieces.



Sevres Porcelain may have given Meissen and Dresden a run for their money, but the French Revolution saw the works practically out of business due to the economic devastation of the new French Republic.

Under Napoleon Bonepart, a new director was named for the Sevres operations: Alexandre Brongniart. He resurrected Sevres. Soft-paste porcelain was eliminated altogether thanks to the discovery of kaolin near Limoges. The market started to open up to the middle classes with more reasonably priced items being made, and for the next forty years business boomed. Today the factory is still in operation making fine contemporary china.


Maybe we should turn the 'Wedgewood Room' into a 'Porcelain Room' in general...



For a good potted history of Sevre go to http://www.antique-marks.com/sevres-porcelain.html
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