The bailli de Breteuil pyramid mantel clock

A Louis XVI gilt bronze pyramid mantel clock,
the dial and movement signed Mangeant à Paris – circa 1770-1775

Height: 59.5 cm. (23 ½ in.)   Width: 27.5 cm. (10 ¾ in.)   Depth: 16 cm. (6 ¼ in.)

The enamelled dial indicates the hours in Roman numerals and the minutes in Arabic numerals with pierced and engraved silvered hands, all set with hematites. The circular movement has a recoil anchor escapement and silk thread-suspended pendulum and chimes the hours and half-hours by means of a count-wheel mounted on the back-plate.


Collection of Jacques-Laure Le Tonnelier, the bailli de Breteuil (1723-1785), inventoried on 31 August 1785 following his decease,
His sale 16 January 1786, lot 261, sold for 402 livres to Hamon

This clock formed part of the famous collection of Jacques-Laure Le Tonnelier, bailli de Breteuil (1723-1785), much of it assembled during his time in Rome where he was the Ambassador of Malta to the Holy See from 1757 to 1777. He subsequently returned to Paris where he continued as Maltese Ambassador to the French Court until his death in 1785. In his post-mortem inventory, the clock is described as:
« une pendule du nom de Mangeant à Paris a cadran d’email doubles [sic] aiguille et demi heures de marcassite »

The auction catalogue lists an extraordinary array of Italian paintings, precious marbles, furniture and works of art. This clock is listed as lot 261, where it is described as:
Une Pendule à sonnerie, par Mangeant à Paris : elle est formée d’obelisque à quatre pans surmonté d’une sphere, posés sur sa base à rosasse & à quatre boules, elevée sur un socle à moulures enrichi d’une peau de lion avec plinthe de marbre blanc soutenue de quatre griffes de lion. Hauteur 28 pouces, largeur 15 pouces.

Comparative Literature

Several other examples are known:

  • One in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, the dial signed Charles Le Roy à Paris
  • One formerly with Etienne Lévy, Paris, the dial signed Lieutaud à Paris
  • One formerly with Bernard Steinitz, Paris, the dial signed Castagnet à Paris, reproduced in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule Française, Paris, 1997, pp. 22-23
  • One formerly in the collection of André and Lydie Hamel, Paris, and then with Jacques Perrin, Paris, reproduced in the 2004 galerie Perrin catalogue, Paris, pp. 119-122. The dial is signed Nepveu à Paris, and the clock has a replaced cartel movement

This model has the unusual feature of a lunette that opens vertically.