An important Louis XV Transitional Louis XVI gilt bronze mounted black and gold vernis Martin grande cartel clock with bracket housed in a superb case by Adrien-Jérôme Jollain stamped J Jollain,
- The white enamel dial with Roman and Arabic numerals and a very fine pair of pierced gilt brass hands for the hours and minutes. The movement with anchor escapement, silk thread suspension, striking on the hour and half hour on a single bell, with outside count wheel.
- The sumptuous case and bracket decorated overall with Chinoiserie scenes showing Oriental figures, pagodas and pavilions against a landscape setting and richly ornamented with gilt bronze mounts, the waisted domed clock case surmounted by a wreath-hung vase issuing a floral spray, outlined by foliate scrolled bands with martial trophies encompassing a quiver of arrows crossed by a caduceus ornamenting the pendulum aperture, on foliate scrolled feet upon a waisted bracket mounted with asymmetrical foliate scrolls with a scrolled terminal Paris, date circa 1765-75
- Height of the clock case 92 cm, width 45 cm, depth 19 cm Height of bracket 42 cm, width 53 cm, depth 27 cm.
- Provenance: Maurice Genevoix (1890-1980)
- Literature: Tardy, French Clocks, the World Over, vol. I, 1949, pl. XXVI, illustrating a similar vernis Martin bracket clock in the Ecole d’Horlogerie de Dreux.
- Although the movement of this superb clock is not signed the case is clearly stamped with the marks of the Parisian ébéniste Adrien-Jérôme Jollain (d. circa 1788) who descended from a clockmaking family and after serving his apprenticeship as an ébéniste was received as a maître in August 1763 and thereafter, like Balthazar Lieutaud, specialised in making clock cases. Like the majority of fifty or so Parisian ébénistes of the period who also focused solely on the production of clock cases, Jollain worked from the cloisters of Saint-Jean-de-Latran, close to the Left Bank where so many of the early Parisian clockmakers had first established themselves in business. Among other clock cases by him are a number of cartels, some decorated in imitation Chinese or Japanese lacquer work, also known as vernis Martin, while other of his larger longcase clocks were generally ornamented with marquetry or inlays but as here nearly always boasted sumptuous gilt bronze mounts.
- The case design is of particular interest since it includes elements of both the Louis XV and Louis XVI styles and thus belongs to a transitional period. Typical of the earlier period are the asymmetrical scrolled mounts as well as the interest in the Orient which prevailed within the Rococo style. However the overall symmetrical mounts on the clock case, the surmounting classical vase along with the quiver and caduceus reflect the subsequent interest in Antiquity during Louis XVI’s reign.
- Another interesting aspect of the clock is its recent history for it was in the collection of the renowned French author Maurice Genevoix (1890–1980) who had a discerning eye for fine works of art, counting among his collection an Aubusson tapestry as well as fine porcelain, which hung on the wall either side the clock and above a commode in Genevoix’s home when he was photographed standing in front of this clock. The author’s vivid accounts of army life as a soldier were inspired by his experiences in World War I during which he was seriously injured. He also created a number of acclaimed novels with a strong regional element centred on the Val de Loire including Rémi des Rauches and Raboliot (which won the Prix Goncourt 1925). His affinity with nature was reflected in many of his writings while other books were inspired by his visits to Canada, Africa, Mexico and Scandinavia. Elected to the Académie Française in 1946, he then became its secretary in 1958; he also headed a committee concerning French state radio, started a television series on French writers and was awarded the Grand Prix National de Lettres.