Sevres Clock and Barometer Sevres Clock and Barometer Sevres Clock and Barometer Sevres Clock and Barometer Sevres Clock and Barometer
A Porcelain and Gilt-Bronze Clock and Barometer

The porcelain by Sèvres, circa 1860

The clock face with enamelled signature Martinos Paria, the barometer with enamelled signature Passement Au Louvre
26 ½ in (67 cm) high, 12 in (30 cm) wide

cf. Geoffrey de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor: Furniture, Clocks and Gilt Bronzes, Fribourg, 1976, Vol. I, no.1, pp. 44-47, for an 18th century model
Daniel Alcouffe et al., Gilt Bronzes in the Louvre, p. 140-141, for an illustration of a similar 18th century model
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This clock with matching barometer, inset with floral painted Sèvres porcelain, represents a copy of the models supplied to Madame du Barry on December 20, 1769 by the marchand-mercier Simon-Philippe Poirier. Such pieces were the height of fashion in Paris in 1769-70. They were described as ‘Un Barometre & Thermometre, de Passement, montes très richement en bronze dores d’or moulu et ornes de trois plaques de porcelaine de france a Enfants en miniature cy 1056.’ It is interesting to note that the original design (which was a single barometer-thermometer) was made to allow for three alternating porcelain plaques depicting putti with astrolabes.

The original barometer-thermometer was designed by the engineer Claude-Siméon Passemant (1702-1769). Passemant was famous for creating the astronomical clock that bears his name, which is today on display in Versailles. Presented to King Louis XV in 1750, this grand, six-foot-tall clock set official time in France for the first time in the country’s history. Mme du Barry’s own smaller, but no less exquisite, barometer-thermometer reflects the taste for timepieces and other scientific equipment that developed from the unveiling of this first astronomical clock. Dated to 1769, it still survives, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Original 18th-century barometer-thermometers of this type are relatively rare survivals today. Other examples are in the permanent collection of the Musée du Louvre (from 1776), the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (from 1774), and at Waddesdon Manor (this one missing its thermometer).