Baccarat Clock Garniture Baccarat Clock Garniture Baccarat Clock Garniture Baccarat Clock Garniture Baccarat Clock Garniture
A Rare Clear and Frosted Glass Ormolu-Mounted Clock Garniture

By Cristalleries de Baccarat, circa 1880

The clock face with enamelled signature Cristalleries de Baccarat, the compotes stamped with the firm's mark

Clock: 13 in (32.5 cm) high
Each Compote: 13 ¼ in (29.25 cm) high
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Baccarat is universally acknowledged as one of the pre-eminent glass manufacturing firms. The firm, which was best known as the Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat, was founded in 1764 under the patronage of Louis XV as Renault et Compagnie, partly to provide employment and partly to compete with the Bohemian glass industry. Early in the 19th century as the effects of the Napoleonic Wars abated, the company began to flourish and its reputation was consolidated by the official approval of various sovereigns and heads of state. At the 1823 Exposition Nationale in Paris, it was Baccarat’s crystalware that Louis XVIII was said to have particularly admired, appreciating its ‘beautiful workmanship’.

Charles X’s visit to the firm in 1828 had significant repercussions for the company. The firm presented the monarch with a gift of two magnificent Medici vases, a large crystal ewer, a 15-piece tea service and a five-piece water set. The king then ordered a dinner service for the Tuilleries, while the Duchesse d’Angoulême personally chose a set of 18 glasses, described by her as ‘...sturdy, balanced, perfect’. Later Louis-Philippe and Napoleon II also visited the crystalworks and were followed by a succession of French presidents and foreign heads of state.

Joining the company in 1841, François-Eugène de Fontenay soon discovered that the addition of nickel oxide to the glass manufacturing process produced a perfectly clear product, resembling precious rock crystal. As a result, the Baccarat company was awarded a Gold Medal at the Expositions des produits de l’industrie française in 1855. This is just one of many technical innovations and improvements discovered by Baccarat. In 1867, the firm exhibited a gigantic fountain 24 feet tall, with a basin ten feet in diameter, which it was said ‘simply took visitors breath away’.

Since the early years of the 19th century it has been one of the great French companies producing the glassware of the very best quality.