Helen Jacobsen on The Wallace Collection’s Sphinx Clock, 1781

Posted in lectures (to attend), museums by Editor on April 27, 2015


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This afternoon at The Wallace Collection:

The Wallace Collection Treasure of the Month, April 2015 | Sphinx Clock, France, 1781
Gallery Talk by Helen Jacobsen, The Wallace Collection, London, 27 April 2015

In the late summer of 1777, Queen Marie-Antoinette wagered her brother-in-law 100,000 livres that he could not build a ‘pleasure house’ in less than 100 days; she lost the bet and the charming Pavillon de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne was the result, although the interiors took several years to complete. Designed by the comte’s architect, François-Joseph Bélanger (1744–1818), it was intended for parties and enjoyment, with a billiard room, a dining room and a salon on the ground floor. Everything was in the latest neo-classical taste, executed by the group of talented decorators, sculptors and cabinet-makers around Bélanger and d’Artois.

The walls of the circular salon were decorated with panels of painted and gilded stucco decoration in the Antique style made fashionable by English and French architects such as Robert Adam and Charles-Louis Clérisseau, while the silk curtains and velvet chairs were of ‘English green’. Bélanger designed a clock for the room that reflected this decoration and when it was finally delivered in 1781 it was considered to be of such superb workmanship that it sat under a glass shade on the chimneypiece. The king’s clock-maker, Jean-Baptiste Lepaute (1727–1801), charged d’Artois the enormous sum of 7,500 livres for the clock, and also made one for his older brother, the comte de Provence. This clock is most likely the one made for Bagatelle. . . .

More information about the clock is available here»

A gallery talk on the clock by Helen Jacobsen, Senior Curator and Curator of 18th-Century Decorative Arts will take place Monday, 27 April 2015, at 1:00pm.


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