We have already mentioned this type of hanging clock called “baker clock” on our website at the comment from the sale Sotheby’s Paris on 16 February 2013, which had an attributed to Guimard. The arrival on the art market in 2013 of new clocks and some research give us the opportunity to better understand these objects. The observation of best eleven attributed to Guimard who came to our knowledge allows to divide them into two categories, depending on their size: larger models in metal housing and small earthenware housing models.
Although sometimes different, the best that we know have a number of common elements specific to bakers clocks, which give them an air of family.Their chains have similar links alternating round link and a scalloped flat rectangular link. At the center of this chain a large central link or a neo-Louis XV pattern used for wall mounting.
The ends of the chain are inserted on decorative elements in gilded bronze. These lateral elements, symmetrical with each other, are supplemented by an apical member and a basal part, and are fixed on a clock case. Dials enameled metal still have Arabic numerals and on most copies needles are similar or close.
These larger models (height 45 or 47 cm, width 38 cm) there is a barometer, designed as a counterpart to the clock.
All major models are mounted on brass clock casings having the shape of a simple cylinder.
Fancy designer or winding error, one of the best that we know has its decorative elements of metal top and bottom reversed relative to the other. All the dials (except one of them who has been redone) have an identical design with a crown of small leaves mingling with the points and minutes have similar numbers. Some have inscriptions such as “PARDIEU / Agen”, “G. Cuspinera / BARCELONA” and “THE GOLD / A GERBE. Simonin / Grenoble “that suggest commercial use, probably in a bakery in the latter case. We also see that their export is made up Catalonia, land favorable to Art Nouveau as we know.
The four metal decorations of small models (width about 27 cm) are entirely different from those of personalized wall clocks. They are always mounted on a housing round and domed earthenware having a cutout in the front for the face and another on the back for the passage of the mechanism. This is probably past special orders with a ceramist. One of the two known copies in 2004 belonged to the collection of Macklowe Gallery in New York. Gave his instructions as the pottery from the housing Keller & Guerin, great artistic ceramics factory in Luneville, near Nancy. The other copy was sold at the Hotel Drouot Ader at June 14, 2013.
It is obvious that the powers to Guimard who flourished about these clocks are themselves based on the appearance of decorative elements attached to the boxes.Without them, the subject loses all new character art for nothing, nor in the decoration pattern of small leaves of the dial or in the drawing figures, either in form of needles indicates a participation of Guimard to design. Only tiles with floral decoration small models attest influence Art Nouveau. But it is that of the Nancy School which subscribes to the Keller & Guerin factory from the late nineteenth century.
However, the complex shapes of metal decorations, asymmetrical, shifting and continuous, have a real elegance and are clearly inspired by the style Guimard. But they nevertheless have a more naturalistic appearance, rather reminiscent of intertwined branches, distant enough decorative patterns Guimard at all stages of his stylistic evolution.
Above all, it is not in the habit of adding Guimard weed elements of his own to manufactured items already carrying their own decor. His creations are always a complete reconstruction of the object design.
During a sale at Drouot a similar clock in the 1990s, the legend was reported the presence of this type of clock in the subway pavilions built by Guimard or in other metro stations. If it is likely that the CMP has installed clocks in its rooms wickets, one can not imagine that it has disposed of artistic designs as easy to steal. So far no mention of similar clocks could be found in the archives of the RATP, nor any old photograph proving their presence in the subway. While mentioning well in its notices that the object is “according Guimard” Ader sale of the house continued to peddle this story by saying: “According to several written documents, identical versions of this clock made in large format, would appeared in the Paris Metro in the early twentieth century. “(Sales of 14 December 2011 of 25 May 2012 and 14 June 2013). And for even more credence to this descent, the cropped photographs of the clock and barometer from the sale of 14 December 2011 are superimposed on reproductions taken from the album of the Castel Beranger. One auction house – Christie’s – said that the clock was “according Guimard” for the sale of 11 February 2003 in London stating “after a design by Hector Guimard.” But at its sale on 29 October 2009 in London, Christie’s forget this precaution and fully restored the award to Guimard.
One of our correspondents in Belgium, Jean-Luc Delval, sheds light on the process of the manufacturer of these clocks providing us these pictures recto and verso of a small model clock:
This clock building the relationship we immediately noticed with those that concern us. And we understand that the manufacturer is obviously not limited to the Art Nouveau style. He also assembled clocks in other styles. This neo-baroque, reminds us of the presence of some Art Nouveau clocks neo-Louis XV wall mounting pattern.Unfortunately, the logo engraved on the back of the mechanism does not give us a clear indication of its origin and the ceramic does not either brand. In reality, these bakers clocks of various styles were much more numerous than those of Art Nouveau.They can be found easily on the Internet, from the same manufacturer as this one (unsold on eBay to 380 € 29 September 2013) which has the same housing tiled than selling Ader, Paris, 14 June 2013.
Or this one whose case is octagonal and faience.
Other manufacturers existed undoubtedly, producing parts in the same vein as this less luxurious clock whose housing is painted metal with floral decoration and decal posed by closing the back by a piece of wood (sold at € 120 eBay Sept. 21, 2013).
These eclectic models typically trade between 150 and 350 € depending on their condition and decorative quality. In conclusion, wrongly attributed clocks Guimard were assembled by a watchmaker French (or Swiss) which produced in different styles, before World War II. For some models, it has commissioned pieces of earthenware manufacturer (maybe Keller & Guerin). The metallic decor elements have been ordered for that exclusive use in an industrial artist which we can not specify the name and cast request by a foundry. As for the dials, they were, in all probability, enamelled in the room with the possibility of introducing a personalized inscription on customer’s request.
PS Our German correspondent Michael Schrader sends us this picture of a nice wall clock in gilded bronze (width 30 cm, depth 10 cm) with enamel dial with floral decor and engineered needles, provenance and unknown dating. More than those discussed above, this clock might deserve the award because in Guimard modeling disheveled from the case. But again, careful observation of the details of decor and general appearance does not allow us to give him a prestigious sponsorship. It also reflects the influence that could have on the style Guimard many creators of artistic objects.