French Louis XVI Style Allegorical Clock depicting the story of “Paul and Virginie”

$9,800.00

A rare Louis XVI style mantel clock after a late 18th century original, the large white enamel dial signed Janvier a Paris. The shaped white marble base has three inset gilt bronze friezes showing goats and rural farm motifs. Standing atop the marble base are two patinated bronze barefooted and bare breasted young negro girls wearing gilt bronze feather skirts. The negro girls are shown supporting the gilt bronze draped case which is surmounted by two sitting classically draped lovers representing Paul and Virginie lovingly facing each other. Paul has one arm wrapped around Virginie and the other patting a pet dog vying for attention from its master.

Paul et Virginie (or Paul and Virginia) were the protagonists of a novel by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, first published in 1788. The novel’s title characters are friends since birth who fall in love. The story is set on the island of Mauritius under French rule, then named Île de France. Written on the eve of the French Revolution, the novel is recognized as Bernardin’s finest work, and records the fate of a child of nature corrupted by the artificial sentimentality of the French upper classes in the late eighteenth century.

The presence and use of negroes as subjects in clocks emanated from huge public interest in late 18thC Europe, in subjects associated with Africa and America. Rousseau in France added to the mystique in his literature on “negros et bons sauvage”, and the abolition of slavery in France and the U.S. in 1793.A rare Louis XVI style mantel clock after a late 18th century original, the large white enamel dial signed Janvier a Paris. The shaped white marble base has three inset gilt bronze friezes showing goats and rural farm motifs. Standing atop the marble base are two patinated bronze barefooted and bare breasted young negro girls wearing gilt bronze feather skirts. The negro girls are shown supporting the gilt bronze draped case which is surmounted by two sitting classically draped lovers representing Paul and Virginie lovingly facing each other. Paul has one arm wrapped around Virginie and the other patting a pet dog vying for attention from its master.

Paul et Virginie (or Paul and Virginia) were the protagonists of a novel by Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, first published in 1788. The novel’s title characters are friends since birth who fall in love. The story is set on the island of Mauritius under French rule, then named Île de France. Written on the eve of the French Revolution, the novel is recognized as Bernardin’s finest work, and records the fate of a child of nature corrupted by the artificial sentimentality of the French upper classes in the late eighteenth century.

The presence and use of negroes as subjects in clocks emanated from huge public interest in late 18thC Europe, in subjects associated with Africa and America. Rousseau in France added to the mystique in his literature on “negros et bons sauvage”, and the abolition of slavery in France and the U.S. in 1793.

Dimensions: 20.5″ H x 15″ W x 4.75″ D

Ref: Rp Sb 048769

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