Style Louis XVI / Ref.12311
J. Bernard-Henri WAGNER - 18th century building clock
Depth: 5'' ⅛ 13cm
Diameter: 58'' ¼ 148cm
France, 18th century
This wooden building clock was made at the end of the 18th century by the company J. Bernard Henri WAGNER. It takes for its frame the same decoration of laurel leaf torus seen on the clock of the marble court of the Versailles palace in gilded stone, made in 1769 by Pépin, under the direction of Leroy, the king's watchmaker. It is one of the only elements preserved from the original clock made under Louis XV, the dial and the mechanism having been changed during the 19th century to give it its current Neo-Louis XIV style.
Curiously, our clock does not seem to have had a full bottom when it was created in the 18th century since we can see at the back, under the current dial, the presence of another openworked wooden dial displaying the Roman numerals of the hours. This particularity makes our clock a rare achievement of this period. Restored during the XIXth century, this openworked wooden dial was hidden by the affixing of a zinc plate dial on which the numbers were painted as well as the name of the company modified in "Collin Wagner" in 1852.
Indeed, this house of clock making was created in 1790 in Paris by J. Bernard-Henri WAGNER, sometimes called "Wagner uncle". He was joined a few years later by his nephew Bernard-Henri Wagner who took over the company and diversified it by manufacturing various and varied machines such as meters, metronomes or weather vanes. Rewarded with silver medals at every exhibition of French industrial products, the reporter of the 1844 exhibition said of the company that "The name Wagner is to big watchmaking what the names Berthoud and Breguet are to precision watchmaking". In 1852, three years before his death, Bernard-Henri Wagner sold the company to Armand-François Collin, who in turn became one of the most prominent watchmakers in Paris. He was awarded a prize at the 1855, 1860, 1867, 1875 and 1878 World Fairs, and in 1881 he won a gold medal at the International Electricity Exhibition. In 1867, he made a clock for the cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris. Its mechanism of more than two meters, disappeared in the dramatic fire of April 15, 2019, allowed to tell the time on four dials placed in dormer windows in the transept. It is also to him that we owe many other building clocks in Paris, notably those of the churches of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois and Saint-Augustin, that of the basilica of Sainte-Clotilde and the town halls of the 4th, 11th and 12th districts.
The company was sold again in 1884 to Château Frères et Cie and remained in business until 1935, 145 years after its creation in 1790.
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