Pierre-Louis Stevenard: An early Engraved Carriage Clock
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A relatively early engraved carriage clock by the well-known automata and doll maker Pierre Stevenard. The eight-day duration movement strikes the hours and half-hours on a bell, with a countwheel set to the backplate rather than the later rack system seen on carriage clocks in the following years. It has a platform lever escapement to the top with a plain steel three-arm balance and with the balance cock engraved to the top and rear. The backplate of the movement is stamped to the lower part with the makers name Stvenard, Horloger Mecanicien a Boulogne; note the missing e. It is also fitted with a transitional contrate wheel depth setting bridge of steel, coming before the more common fitting of a brass piece with screw thread adjustment.
The white enamel dial has black Roman numerals, blued steel moon hands and is signed, Stevenard Horloger Mecanicien a Boulogne S/M (Sur Mer).
The relatively early form of multi-piece case is fully engraved with an engraved solid gilded brass rear door and is reminiscent of cases from this period as used by other makers such as Lepine.
Height: 5.5 inches (13.5 cms): handle down: 6.5 inches (16.5 cms): handle up
Pierre-Louis Stevenard, born 1801, was a fine maker of automata and moving dolls, often incorporating the most ingenious mechanisms and often set with clocks. He was considered a master of his craft in France at this time and had an unsurpassed reputation. Between 1833 and 1842 he produced three most important pieces, each incorporating a miniature musician. At the Paris Exposition of 1878, at the age of 77, he showed two automata, The Physician and The Singing Lesson and was awarded a bronze medal after which he made his speech of acknowledgement and thanks to the jury through one of his automata. The Singing Lesson is illustrated and discussed in Automata by Alfred Chapuis and Edmond Droz, the English edition published by B.T. Batsford Ltd in 1938, and was sold in March of 2016 as part of the collection of Docteur Max Tassel and where it is noted that the movement is signed in a similar style to this carriage clock.
Stevenard can be considered the equal of Robert-Houdin, another magician and maker of mystery automata who was also a clockmaker. In La Ricreation Francois for 1833, when reporting a singing bird automata made by Stevenard it is stated that 'A new miracle, we can see a bird richly decorated in lively colours and smaller than can be imagined coming out of an egg made of silver. He flatters his wings, turns his neck and sings a song... Art has created nothing more perfect, nothing approaching so close to nature'. Chapuis & Droz note that in the report it is also stated that this piece took Stevenard five years to produce and had been sold for 50,000 francs.
Pierre-Louis Stevenard died in 1883.