Carriage Clock with Porcelain Panels attributed to Simonnet
The style of this carriage clock is basically cannelée but with slightly more substantial moulding.
The eight-day duration movement strikes the hours and half-hours on a gong, with push button repeat of the last hour at will and has a subsidiary alarm. The dial incorporates delicate black Roman numerals against the silvered surround below which there is a depiction of a young man offering a bouquet of flowers to a girl, whilst above various insects are seen flying. On one side panel a girl is featured wearing a pink dress with hollyhocks around her whilst on the other side a girl dressed in yellow, green and purple is writing a message on a tree.
It is certain that one of the paintings is based on original by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Le Chiffre d'Amour (The Souvenir) which is in the Wallace Collection; but whereas it is believed Fragonard signed his depiction on the panel with his initial, on this panel we see this replaced by L.S. for the renowned painter of Sèvres porcelain Lucien Simonnet. The Simonnet attribution becomes more apparent when comparing the clock movement with those seen in other carriage clocks bearing Simonnet panels, all of which are near-identical and obviously originate from the same workshop, suggesting that Simonnet used the same clockmaker; or the same clockmaker used Simonnet panels. The arrow as stamped on the backplate to show the direction of moving the hands is near-identical to those used for a short period by the well-known carriage clock maker Arsène Margaine and is the same as seen on most movements using Simonnet panels.
A porcelain panelled carriage clock with the same hand-setting arrow as this example has been seen with the side panels signed in full for Simonnet whilst the dial is signed with the initials L.S. in the same form as seen here, and was sold by Dreweatt's Auctioneers, Berkshire in May 2020.
A further clock having definite Simonnet panels and signed with the same L.S. initials was offered at Bonham's auctioneers, London in June 2019.
The clock itself rests on an ebony base which bears a silver presentation plaque on which is engraved: Presented to L.H Simpson Esq. as a token of respect by the work people of Park Mills, Preston on the occasion of his marriage on April 24th 1880.
Leigh Extence notes: According to Grace’s Guide referring to The Cotton Mills in Preston 1891, Park Mills was home to the Park Lane Twist Company, Cotton spinners and Manufacturers, situated in North Road, Preston, Lancashire, an area dominated by the cotton industry at this time being in such close proximity to the great trading ports of Liverpool and Manchester. They were one of the larger concerns operating at the time with 48,760 spindles producing 448/608 throstle. Their payday was Wednesday. The managing director is noted to be A. Simpson, who was obviously related to the Simpson presented with this clock, who in turn were quite probably related to the other Simpson family members involved in the industry at the time. A half-century or more earlier, a John Simpson was involved in the first cotton mill in Manchester, Simpson’s Mill, built in partnership with the well-known Richard Arkwright in 1782, along with Samuel Simpson. Arkwright’s son, also Richard, married Mary Simpson in 1780. An air raid in October of 1940 destroyed Simpson’s Mill.
Derek Roberts notes: The dial and side panels, which are silvered, are probably some of the finest we have seen.
Height: 8¾ inches (22.3cms): including plinth: 7 inches (18cms): handle up.
For a comprehensive history of Margaine, his clocks and working practices see Antiquarian Horology, the journal of the Antiquarian Horological Society, June 2014, pages 807 to 826 inclusive; The Horological World of Francois Arsène Margaine by Tom Wotruba.
Price: On Application