A beautiful late 19th century Louis XV style gilt bronze clock by Ferdinand Barbedienne.
The rocaille case is decorated with leafed scrolls and shells, surmounted by a putto with his right hand raised as if he wanted to attract the attention of the observer. The sides and the lower portion are adorned with metal gilded pierced motifs with internal red fabric.
The clock rests in a nice rocaille basement. The round enamel dial, signed “F. Barbedinne, a Paris”, painted with Roman and Arabic numerals with patterned perforated hands. Movement with anchor escapement and reed suspension, cogwheel strike at half hours when passing over the bell.
The quality of the bronze chasing and gilding is remarkable, which have nothing to envy the quality of the models inspired for his artworks.
Ferdinand Barbedienne bronze artist
Ferdinand Barbedienne (1810 – 1892) presided over one of the most renowned and prolific foundries of Belle Époque Paris. His atelier created sculptures, clocks, bronze mounts and objets d’art of the highest quality, and his works were shown at numerous international exhibitions of the period. His works are part of the revival from antiquity that imposed itself in the decorative arts and European sculpture during the reign of Napoleon III.
In 1838, Ferdinand Barbedienne and Achille Collas (1795-1859) founded the “Société Collas et Barbedienne”. Achille Collas was a French engineer, inventor, writer and engraver who developed a way of copying small-scale sculptures and perfected new methods for the colour and patina finish of bronzes. The company had a vast production of art and furnishing objects, inspired by the most diverse cultures as Egyptian and classical revival, the French Eighteenth Century, Islamic and Japanese art. In 1859, at Achille Collas’s death, giving entire property of the foundry to Barbedienne.
The first Barbedienne production was based on models provided by other artists and the very high quality of his works of art; he collaborated with the most renowned artists, sculptors or designers of his time, such as Barrias, Clésinger, Carrier-Belleuse Edouard Lievre, Ferdinand Levillain, Désiré Attarge, Eugène Antoine Aizelin, Antoine-Louis Barye, Emmanuel Frémiet and Louis-Constant Sévin, a celebrated ornamentalist for the decorative arts, who joined the firm as a sculptor-designer, creating new designs for daily objects, which hence become true artworks. With the entry into the company of Louis-Constant Sévin, he also became a direct producer of fine art objects where he can affix the Barbedienne signature. His signature varied from handwritten capitals to stamps in capitals, usually F. Barbedienne, Fondeur or BARBEDIENNE PARIS.
Statues aside, the firm products plenty of decorative artefacts, such goldsmithing, cabinetmaking, mirrors, boxes, lamps, fireplaces, vases and clocks. In this last case, on the dial of the clock, for the most significant works, there is his signature. During the third quarter of the Century, the company started to also produce champlève and cloisonné enamels.
In 1850 Barbedienne was commissioned to furnish the Paris town hall for which he was awarded with the ‘Medaille d’ Honneur’ at the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1855.
The success of Barbedienne’s firm brought him many official commissions; in 1860, he supplied bronzes for furniture for the Pompeian Villa of Napoléon Joseph Charles Paul Bonaparte (1822 – 1891) located avenue Montaigne in Paris. At the London Universal Exhibition of 1862, Barbedienne won medals in three categories: Furniture, Silversmith work and Artistic bronzes. Barbedienne was made an officer of the Légion d’Honneur in 1867 and Commander in 1878 was compared with “a prince of industry and the king of bronze casting”. His glory did not decline with the passage of time, for at the Universal Exhibition of 1889, the critics thanked Barbedienne for the example he set for other bronze-casters by the perfection of his bronzes. After Ferdinand’s death the business was taken over by his nephew, Leblanc-Barbédienne, continuing until 1953.
London 1851; 2 Council Medals.
Paris 1855; ‘Grande Médaille d’Honneur’.
London 1862; 3 Medals for Excellence.
Paris 1867: ‘Jure Rapporteur (Hors Concours)’.
Vienna 1873; 2 ‘Diplômes d’Honneur’, ‘Médailles de Progrès’, and 25 ‘Médailles de Coopérateurs’.
Paris, 1878; ‘Grand Prix’, ‘Grande Médaille d’Or’, ‘Diplôme d’honneur’ , and 28 ‘Médailles de Coopérateurs’.
L’Exposition universelle de 1889 : l’exemple de Barbedienne », Catherine Chevillot, in Revue de l’Art, 1992, n°95.
Catalogue de l’exposition : « L’art en France sous le Second Empire », Grand-Palais, Paris 1979.
Catalogue de l’Exposition Universelle, les Beaux-Arts et les Arts décoratifs, t. I : l’Art moderne, Paris, 1878.
Catalogue de l’Exposition Universelle, les Beaux-Arts et les Arts décoratifs, Paris, 1889.
Florence Rionnet, Les Bronzes Barbedienne. L’œuvre d’une dynastie de fondeurs (1834-1954), Paris, Arthena, 2016.
Barbedienne, Ferdinand, Catalogue des Bronzes d’art 1886, Fonderie d’art Français: Val d’Osne, Fonderie de Tusey, Antoine-Louis Barye, Fonderie Rudier, Charles Crozatier, Ferdinand Barbedienne, Livres Groupe, (Paris) 2010
Mestdagh, Camille and Pierre Lecoules, L’Ameublement d’art français: 1850-1900, Editions de l’Amateur (Paris), 2010, pp.23, 120, 155, 161 and 179.
Kjellberg, Pierre, Les Bronzes du XIX Siècle, dictionnaire des sculpteurs, Editions de l’Amateur (Paris) 1987, pps.653-658.
Meyer, Jonathan, Great Exhibitions: London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, 1851-1900, Antique Collector’s Club (Woodbridge, UK), 2006.
Ledoux-Lebard, Denise, Les Ebénistes du XIX Siècle, Editions de l’Amateur, (Paris) 1984, p.38.
Cooper, Jeremy, 19th Century Romantic Bronzes, New York Graphic Society, 1975 pps. 25, 41,149.