Last updated on February 22, 2021
This is just an introductory place marker for much more information and photos to come on my newly acquired Régence or early Louis XV era cartel clock, by the celebrated maker Julien Le Roy. I purchased the clock from an auction house in Lyon, and it was just delivered two days ago, on a cold and snowy February day. The shipping company, MBE Lyon, did a marvelous job packing the clock and its components securely and professionally, and it suffered no damage in the shipment by UPS.
I attach below photos from the auction house listing, to give an idea of the clock. I will be posting my own photos as I continue to proceed with the clock’s disassembly, inspection, conservation and repairs. My intent is certainly to aim for a conservation rather than full restoration approach as this clock, in part due to the maker, has undeniable historical importance.
Much more to come…
Below is a photo of the bronze figure in the center front of the cartel, in front of the glass and under the dial. The rather large and elaborate bronze proved a bit of a challenge to identify, as it doesn’t appear to be very common in French cartels from that era. The figure represented is actually a Greek mythological goddess, Ceto (or Keto, from the Greek Ketos meaning “sea monster”). Ceto was the daughter of Gaia and Pontus, and together with her brother Phorcys, begat several sea monsters. She is shown in this sculpture sitting atop a sea monster, and holding a trident used to tame the beast.
Why a cabinet maker and clock maker of the Regency period would choose such a deity for the front of a clock is a bit of a mystery, but perhaps this is related to the popular subject at the time of using horology to determine longitude at sea, thereby taming the “sea monsters” that would result in many lost ships and death of sailors, through not knowing their longitude or position at sea. Even though this cartel is not a marine clock obviously, the spirit of horology promised to make advances in this area, and perhaps this is why Ceto was used in this representation.