Triptych with clock and pair of candelabra, Etienne Lenoir – Henry Dasson, France, second half of the 19th century


The bronze triptych consists of a central clock and two side candelabra.
All three elements have a similar base: a plinth in Rouge Griotte marble rests on a square base, around which there is a bronze laurel wreath, finely chiseled with a burin.
The clock features the bronze figure of a putto kneeling on the left leg, while the right is advanced and partially covered by a drapery that also hides the groin. The head is bowed in an attitude of effort, while both arms are raised to support the watch case. This, gilded and decorated with chisel and burin with a beaded cord that takes up the decoration on the marble plinth, is decorated on the top with a bow. On the display, the hours are marked with Roman numerals, while the minutes, marked by five by five, are marked with Arabic numerals; the bronze hands are also finely decorated with phytomorphic motifs.
On the dial there is the signature of the watchmaker “ Lenoir / AParis”.

The two candelabra also depict two bronze putti with butterfly wings, mirroring each other: one leg is raised and the weight of the body is shifted forward, in the momentum of a race, the face is turned towards the ‘high in an expression between amazement and amusement.
The arms are open and support two candle holders that represent torches with a lit fire, in gilded bronze; the drapery that wraps the sides of the two figures is also in gilded bronze.

Clock dimensions: 55 × 16.7 × 16.7 cm; (21,6 x 6,6 x 6,6 in )
Candelabra dimensions: 40.5 x 12 x 14 cm (16 x 4,7 x 5,5 in)


Historical-critical analysis:

The invention of the clock is by the French bronze worker Pierre Philippe Thomire (1757-1843), who was one of the main Parisian founding masters between 1772 and the mid-twenties of the nineteenth century, when he retired from the business. The artist’s project was purchased in 1813 by the Maison Breguet (the most important watch manufacturers in nineteenth-century Europe), as evidenced by the documentation preserved in the archives of the manufacture, which produced them in several copies.
During the course of the century this invention was revived and translated into bronze by various artists, even of a certain fame, such as Henry Picard and Henry Dasson.

The triptych in question is attributable to the latter: in fact, punctual and stringent comparisons are possible with other works entirely similar to those in question or which present variations, with a view to diversifying the artist’s production. . The one that comes closest to ours is a triptych recently placed on the antiques market, in which the clock is identical to the one in question, with the exception of the bronze decoration on the case. The candelabra are different: they are always made up of small cherubs, but who support with both hands a flowering branch that acts as a candle holder. The base is completely identical, even in the type of marble used.

The “pendule à l’enfant” certainly enjoyed great success in the Paris of those years, as evidenced by the derivations from the work of Dasson himself, recently auctioned.
The two putti-candle holders, on the other hand, are reflected in a bronze statue presented at auction by Christie’s together with a group, signed Henry Dasson. The putto holding two branches of roses finds a precise correspondence with one of ours (with the exception of the drapery around the hips), while the other is the mirror reproduction: the raised leg and the slender weight forward almost like in the heat of a race.
The three bronzes that make up our triptych have a very high quality of casting, as also demonstrated by the attention with which the burin chiselling was carried out for details, in particular for the hair of the cherubs and for the candle holder torches.

Biography Henry Dasson, Paris 1825-1896:

He was one of the leading Parisian bronzers of the nineteenth century, whose works are recognized for their decorative refinement and the high quality of their bronze casting. After having a brief career in the manufacture of bronze artifacts and watches in association with the skilled designer Emile Godeau, Dasson studied with Justin Marie Lequien, professor at the École Superieur Turgot. In 1871 he acquired the thriving business of cabinetmaker Charles Guillaume Winckelsen, soon becoming a recognized and appreciated cabinetmaker and bronze maker himself.

Specializing above all in the production of Louis XIV, XV and XVI style furniture and objects, his production was highly sought after and qualitatively appreciated to the point of allowing him to participate in the Parisian Exposition Universelle of 1878 and 1889, where the latter was awarded the Grand Prix Artistique. Awarded the title of Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur in 1883, Dasson ceased production of his manufacture in 1894, selling his models and designs at an impressive auction held the same year.

Dasson’s production was very diversified both in the typology of the works (furniture such as tables, but also chandeliers, candelabra and clocks) and in the materials and techniques used: although his favorite was certainly the bronze casting, often in his articles there are also precious marbles.

The Etienne Lenoir signature, on the other hand, refers to a watchmaker active in the second half of the nineteenth century. For onomastic reasons it could have belonged to the famous family of watchmakers, which included Etienne II Lenoir (1699-1778) and his son Pierre-Etienne Lenoir (1724-after 1789), two of the most important watchmakers in Louis XV’s Paris . Unfortunately, there is no further news of ours.

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