Here is a fantastic Art Nouveau, parcel-gilt, spring driven, two train, eight day time and strike Morbier (Comptoise) wall clock (aka-picture frame clock), retailed by Decan of Paris, made in the Morbier region (Jura Mountains), France circa 1870-1880.
The Morbier style picture frame clock is a relatively common style clock but they usually have an ebonized undulating border with mother of pearl ornament around the dial. This bezel and gilt gesso dial surround is what makes this particular example very unique and much less commonly seen.
Movement is original but untested. Selling as-is.
Here is some more information on this absolutely gorgeous clock. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.
Case: 19" x 15.5" x 5" round wall clock with an elaborate gilt gesso fruitwood frame surmounted by a golden clam shell resting on two curled acanthus leaves while parcel gilt floral bowers extend outward from the central shell and flow around the periphery of the frame to the lowest point where they form acanthus leavese once again. There is a broad area of gilded wood around the broad sides of the bezel ending in beading adjacent to the dial. The bezel is on a hinge near the twelve position. The movement is housed in an octagonal wooden case behind the frame with a lower door @6, opening to allow access to the pendulum bob. The back of the case reveals that the pediment is puttied at the back rather than gilded and there is a secondary wood (perhaps beech wood) with an original dark patina backing the movement.
Dial: A white marble dial with satine finish has blue Roman hour chapter in cartouche form, closed minute ring to the outside, a gilt ornament at the base of the hands, two winding arbors and steel quatrefoil skeletonized hands with the dial marked for the retail firm, Decan of Paris.
Movement: A solid brass rectangular plate movement connected to the dial with four dial feet, the brass plates connected by tubular brass pillars, with anchor escapement, steel gear arbors, cut steel pinions, and powered by two barrel springs of eight day (could be more) duration and striking the hour and half hour (sometimes the quarters as well) on a coiled cathedral gong screwed to the back board (acts as a sounding board). A small pendulum swings below the movement inside the case. The movement would be unsigned (the clockmaker almost never signed these clocks).
The age of the clock is determined from the movement which represents the last form used to make clocks in the Morez or Morbier region of the Jura mountains. Before 1800 these were almost 100% weight driven, and during the first half of the 19th century the movements were steel and brass post and plate type. In the second half of the 19th century, mostly towards the fourth quarter the solid brass plate movement with barrel springs and coiled gongs appear. (see notes) The condition of your example is excellent with a few splits in the gilding over the white gesso, but that is really of no consequence. The gilding is properly aged and speckled and has not been repainted or re-gilded. Dial is superb with no cracks or significant losses. Movement is original.
The Comptoise/Morbier (also known in America as a 'picture frame' clock) clock goes back to 17th century France. In the French countryside local clockmakers placed their movements, based on Gothic movements, into long cases. (This was not done in the major French cities) The cases were made locally, but all the movements were made in the district of 'Franche Comte', also known as the 'Jura', in the eastern sections of the country, near the Swiss border. The major centers were in the towns of Morbier and Morez. That is why they are known by these names also. These movements had steel or iron frames with sheet iron doors on the sides and the time and strike trains were side by side. The earliest Comptoise dials were all metal. Later the dials were made of enamel for the numerals with a pressed brass surround. From circa 1750 one finds metal carvings atop the dial of clasped hands and a rooster. At this point the front of the clock was made of real bronze. Circa 1840-1860 the bronze front was replaced by pressed brass. At this point the sun and star, horn of plenty, Grecian urn and mythical creatures appeared in the pressed metal. The pendulum bob was still simple and the rod could be either in one piece or sections that could be folded.
By 1860 overly large pendulum bobs began to appear in thin embossed brass. Most of these designs were created in Paris but cast in the Morbier region. Themes pertain to religion or marriage and the brass impressions are in higher relief. Painted brass was done primarily at the end of the 19th century. Names on the dials were almost always the retailer and rarely were these clocks signed by the clockmaker. The cases began as oak, cherry and walnut in the late 18th century and first half of the 19th. In the last quarter of the 19th century the cases tended to be pine with imitation wood 'graining' and hand painted decorations on the case. These types of clocks continued to be popular with the public until WWl.
The earlier examples had verge escapements which, in the transitional era of the 19th century changed to an anchor escapement. The later examples (circa 1880-1915) were spring driven, instead of weight driven, and were made for hanging on the wall instead of being placed inside a long clock case. A wire gong was mounted on the wooden sounding board of the rear of the case. Brass drums enclosed the spring driven movement and the strike frequently is on the quarter hour.
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