An important Louis XVI gilt bronze Pendule ‘Au Lion’ of eight day duration by Joseph Mignolet housed in a case attributed to François Vion, the white enamel dial signed Mignolet à Paris with black and red Arabic numerals with outer calendar ring for the 31 days of the month and a beautiful pair of pierced gilt brass hands for the hours and minutes. The movement with silk thread suspension, anchor escapement, striking on the hour and half hour on a single bell, with outside count wheel. The gilt bronze case with the clock drum surmounted by a covered urn hung with a laurel swag and mounted on the back of a lion facing to the left with flowing mane and serpentine tail on a shaped rectangular plinth hung with laurel swags on four feet upon a shaped rectangular black marble base centred by a gilt bronze mounted ribbon-tied oak leaf spray flanked at the corners by rosettes
Paris, date circa 1770
Height 34 cm, width 20 cm, depth 13 cm.
Literature: Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 193, pl. 3.11.4, illustrating an identical pendule ‘au lion’ with case by François Vion circa 1770, signed on the dial Gudin à Paris, made for the Ministère d’Etat, now at the Ministry of Finance, Paris. And p. 193, pl. 3.11.6, illustrating a design by Vion for this clock in an album in the Bibliothèque Doucet. Tardy, “Les Plus Belles Pendules Françaises”, 1994, p. 17, illustrating a similar clock case. Bruno Pons, “French Period Rooms, 1650-1800”, 1995, p. 231. Pierre Kjellberg, “Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle”, 1997, p. 278, pl. E, illustrating a similar clock with movement by Jacques Panier. Elke Niehüser, “Die Französische Bronzeuhr”, 1997, p. 239, pl. 843, illustrating a clock of the same model.
François Vion (b. circa 1737 d. after 1790) was one of the leading bronziers of his day who became a maître in 1764. Apart from a few decorative gilt bronze accessories, such as plinths for statuettes, he appears to have specialised in clock cases. As here, a number of these were supported by animals and in particular by a lion. A number of his cases also featured classical figures such as one representing the Three Graces housing a movement by Lepaute à Paris which was made for the comtesse du Barry at Château de Fontainebleau. (Musée du Louvre, Paris). The Musée Municipal, Besançon also owns a clock housed in a case by Vion surmounted by Venus and putti after a design by E-M Falconet, while the Wrightsman Collection in the Metropolitan Museum, New York owns a biscuit porcelain figure of Cupid by Falconet placed on a gilt bronze base by Vion. He supplied a number of cases to the leading Parisian clockmakers including Lepaute, Furet, Manière, Cronier and as here Mignolet.
The Parisian clockmaker Joseph Mignolet (d. circa 1817) was received as a maître on 3rd August 1786. Established in the rue Saint-Honoré and then by 1812 in the rue Neuve des Petits-Champs, he married the daughter of the clockmaker Adam Lechopie, with whom he had five children, but only one went on to follow their father’s profession. Among his esteemed clientele was the duc de Richelieu as well as the marquis de Mirabeau, the celebrated economist and father of the famous orator. Mignolet also made the movement for a Chinese porcelain vase clock with dial by the great enamellist Joseph Coteau (1740-1801) as part of a garniture with six other vases of which one set was supplied to the comte de Lamarck for his residence at the Hôtel de Charost, Paris while another set is illustrated in Jean-Dominique Augarde, “Les Ouvriers du Temps”, 1996, p. 198, pl. 159.