Bronze-caster & Cabinet-maker
A rare « The Three Graces » Clock
Model of the Paris Universal Exhibition, 1878
Gilt and Patinated Bronze, Porphiry
Height: 83 cm (32,7 in.); Base width: 34 cm (13,4 in.)
Beautiful Louis XVI style clock with the Three Graces finely cast in patinated bronze with flowing drapery robes. The figures support a « canon de fusil » patinated bronze sphere with a ‘cercle tournant’ dial in white enamel, with Roman Numerals. The sphere is surmounted by two putti, one of them holding the arrow that points the hour. The clock is raised on a stepped oval porphiry base, banded by a stiff-leaf gilt-bronze border, relying on four gilt-bronze feet.
The model of this clock was exhibited at the Paris World Fair in 1878 par Henry Dasson. The amateurs enjoyed the work very much, as we can read in newspapers: “The clock is again in the same style (Louis XVI) and, if its structure evocates the one of the piece from the Double Collection (a model by Falconet with the Three Graces), we prefer Dasson’s one. The three female figures, that Clodion himself would not have disowned, are not in a symmetric attitude, as the ones from the Master; in a natural movement, they are holding the sphere, on which are two children pointing the hours inscribed on rolling circles.”
A similar clock was presented at the Moscow international Exhibition in 1891, and another one, dated from 1887, with a porphyry base, was purchased by the Vanderbilt family and placed in the great hall of the Hyde Park House (State of New York).
The design for this exceptional clock is a variation on an eighteenth century model attributed to the fondeur-ciseleur François Vion, which depicts the Three Graces, possibly after Falconet, entwined and supporting a sphere containing an orbit movement. A design for a Three Graces clock by Vion, dating from 1770 is conserved in an album of the bibliothèque Doucet, Paris (Institut national d’histoire de l’art, VI E 15, Rés.fol.20/1), and intitled ‘Pièce de bureau’, whose subject is ‘Le temps qui passe entre l’amour et les Grâces’.
As a cabinet-maker and a bronze-caster, Henry Dasson executed in his Paris workshop sumptuous copies of royal 18th century models and some pieces of his own modified 18th century design. He used for his pieces of furniture and « objets d’art » the very finest ormolu mounts with high quality mercurial gilding. He purchased the firm of the cabinet-maker Charles Winckelsen upon his death in 1871 and mainly produced in the Louis XV and Louis XVI style. His participation at the Paris 1878 Universal Exhibition was highly remarked with a Louis XVI style table, all in bronze and considered as a « chasing masterpiece », and a copy of the famous King Louis XV desk (original piece exhibited at the Versailles Castle). At the 1889 Universal Exhibition, he won a « Grand Prix » for his beautiful furniture.
- – A Lepautre clock, executed after the design by Vion, at the château de Fontainebleau (Inv.F918 C). The clock is reproduced in L’Art pour tous, n°543, January 30th 1883, p. 2270.
- – A similar clock at the Musée du Louvre, Paris (OA 5433)
We identify two other clocks from our model by Dasson, one with fully gilded figures, and the other one signed Henry Dasson and dated 1881 with an amethyst base.
Falize, « Exposition universelle. Les industries d’art au champ de Mars », Gazette des Beaux-arts, 1878-2, p. 608
Camille Mestdagh, L’ameublement d’art français. 1850-1900, Paris, 2010, p. 130-135.
H. Ottomeyer, P.Pröschel et al., Vergoldete Bronzen, München, 1986, vol. I, p. 179, ill. 3.7.4.
P. Tardy, La Pendule française. Des origines à nos jours, Paris, vol. II, p. 94-95.
P. Verlet, Les Bronzes Dorés Français du XVIIIe siècle, 1987, p. 261 (ill. 296), and p. 279 (ill. 308-310).