Ornate French Table Clock
This is a brilliant French ormolu desk clock with time and strike movement. Ormolu was typical of the 18th and 19th centuries and referred to gilded bronze objects. The top of the clock features a tree adorned with leaves and fruit positioned in front of a fence with small flowers. At the left end of the fence, sits a woven basket, filled to the brim with the fruit a young boy picks from the tree. On the dial, pointing to roman numerals, are Breguet style hands, distinctive for their thin arms which end with a crescent moon-like tip. Abraham-Louis Breguet (1743–1823) was a Swiss watch and clock maker working in Paris, who was known to have designed clocks for Napoleon I (1769–1821). The design of these dial hands was particularly popular in the 18th and 19th centuries and are known to have adorned both Breguet clocks and clocks by other makers. The shape of these dial hands has also been called “pomme excentrée” (hollowed apple) or “pomme hands”, which seems a rather fitting choice for this clock. Perhaps the young boy is picking apples. The casing of the clock is reminiscent of a carriage shape; its rectangular body is outlined with thick scrolls and foliage, and on either side of the clock’s base are large c-scrolls, recalling the shape and position of carriage wheels. This clock may serve as a beautiful conversation piece while working from home, but it might also inspire future daydreams of royal life and summer days! On the back of the clock, a stamp of the retailer, Rollin à Paris, is found, along with the initials C.I., which may refer to the dial maker, case maker, or clockmaker.
At this time in France, Louis Daguerre (1787–1851) took the first modern photograph, titled View of the Boulevard du Temple, in 1838. The image appears to be of a deserted street, with only two men, a shoe shiner and his customer, in frame. The Boulevard du Temple was actually a very busy thoroughfare, and would have been crowded at the time of the photograph. The reason it appears empty is because photographic technology required an exposure time of four to five minutes at the time, and therefore the two men were the only people still enough to be captured. Today, the photograph is considered to be the first of its kind to include an image of a human.