Masson à Paris / attributed to Pierre Jaquet-Droz, Height 820 mm, circa 1760
A splendid and important Swiss Louis XV quarter repeating pendulum clock with quarter hour/hour strike and musical movement on bells that activates on the hour and can also be activated manually Case: wood, green Vernis Martin decor with coloured flowers and gilt bronze appliques: volutes, flowers, laurel scrolls and acanthus. Lateral sound holes with open work brass grilles, green silk lining, moulded hip gable. Glazed front door, cord for releasing the automaton and the repeater that plays music. Matching curved bracket. Dial: enamel, radial Roman hours, open work gilt hands. Cartouche-shaped lower part of the dial with lavishly styled gilt bronze decoration. Movm.: rectangular brass full plate movement,signed, moulded movement pillars, 2 barrels, on reverse side applied rack strike levers, verge escapement, pendulum with silk string suspension. Muscial movement: heavy brass movement with chain/fusee and governor; a brass frame with brass pinned barrel and 10 bells.
Even though this outstanding timekeeper bears a French signature, it was definitely produced in La Chaux-de-Fonds and can be attributed to Pierre Jaquet-Droz. A number of almost identical pieces with his signature have been illustrated and described in detail in literature.
Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721-1790) Pierre Jaquet-Droz was a Swiss-born watchmaker of the late eighteenth century. He lived in Paris, London, and Geneva, where he designed and built animated dolls, or automata, to help his firm sell watches and mechanical birds. Constructed between 1768 and 1774 by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, his son Henri-Louis (1752-1791), and Jean-Frédéric Leschot (1746-1824) were The Writer (made of 6000 pieces), The Musician (2500 pieces), and The Draughtsman (2000 pieces). His astonishing mechanisms fascinated the kings and emperors of Europe, China, India, and Japan. Some consider these devices to be the oldest examples of the computer. The Writer has an input device to set tabs that form a programmable memory, 40 cams that represent the read-only programme, and a quill pen for output. The work of Pierre Jaquet-Droz predates that of Charles Babbage by decades. The automata of Jaquet-Droz are also considered to be some of the finest examples of human mechanical problem solving. Three particularly complex and still functional dolls, now known as the Jaquet-Droz automata, are housed at the art and history museum in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Jaquet-Droz, as of 09/09/2014.
Denis Masson became a master in 1746; he delivered watches to members of the French nobility - among them the de Condé and de Mazarin families.
Provenance: Watch and Clock Museum "Abeler" Wuppertal
Estimate 25,000 - 50,000 €
Price Realised 29,200 €
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