Artist or maker:
Caffieri, Jacques (b.1678, d.1755)
Artist or maker:
Caffieri II, Philippe (b.1714, d.1774)
movement by Julien Le Roy (French, b.1686, d.1759)
enamelling by Antoine-Nicolas Martinière (French, b.1706, d.1784)
gilding by Jean-Barthélemy Autin (French, active c 1749)
see commentary for dating
Place of production:
Paris, France
chased and gilt bronze, the dial and globe in white, black and blue enamel
Type of object:
Accession number:


This clock combines the work of three of the most talented craftsmen of 18th-century Paris. The case - with its wind-blown leaf fronds, boldly punched patterns, and flowing figures of Aurora, Venus and Cupid - is the work of the bronze founders and chasers Jacques Caffiéri and his eldest son Philippe.

The two worked together from 1747 to 1755, creating spectacular clock cases, such as the large astronomical clock for Versailles, as well as bronze furniture mounts, chandeliers, and portrait busts for both royal and private patrons. The enamel work on the dial and on the globe is by Antoine-Nicolas Martinière who worked for the King and Madame de Pompadour. He also collaborated with several clockmakers including one of the leading horologists of the day, Julien Leroy, who made this clock's movement.

Leroy gained prestigious lodgings in the Louvre in 1739 on the basis that he could save French clockmaking from English competition. He made many things for the King including a cartel clock with a woman pointing out the hours, as the flying figure representing Dawn does here. However there is no evidence to indicate if it was the same model as the Waddesdon clock. An inventory of the Caffiéri workshop taken in 1749 suggests that the gilder was Jean-Barthélemy Autin. The division of labour evident in this clock was a result of the prohibitions laid down by the guilds, allowing craftsmen and women to perform only specific tasks. Such specialisation did, however, allow artists to achieve the highest standards in their respective fields.

The clock must post-date February 1747 as there is no mention of this clock-case model in an inventory of Jacques Caffiéri's stock of models made in that month. An inventory dated 7 May 1749, taken on the death of Philippe's wife, records that Julien Leroy owed the Caffiéris 180 livres, which may have been the balance owned on the clock case (see Bellaigue, 1974).

Phillippa Plock, 2012

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
Case: 795 x 470 x 419
on the back of the pendulum's sunburst

on the back of the pendulum's bob
otez Cette plaque / et Le pignion de roue / de Cadran, Voyez si / Le Cerle [sic] horairs / est Libre, Ensuitte / remetez Le tout
on gilt-bronze plaque on the back of the upper segment of the globe

on the mainspring

[Rubard ?]
on the mainspring

on the mainspring
Translation of inscription:
take away the plaque and the wheel pinion of the dial. See if the hour circle is free. Finally replace everything


Owned by Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, 4th Earl of Carnarvon (b.1831, d.1890); probably by descent to his son George Edward Stanhope Molyneux, 5th Earl of Carnarvon (b.1866, d.1923), Bretby, Derbyshire: acquired by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (b.1839, d.1898) from the Carnarvon collection at Bretby; inherited by his sister Alice de Rothschild (b.1847, d.1922); inherited by her great-nephew James de Rothschild (b.1878, d.1957); bequeathed to Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1957.
Exhibition history:
'Three French Reigns', 1933, 25 Park Lane, London, no. 520
Waddesdon (National Trust)
Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957



Three French Reigns (Louis XIV, XV & XVI) Loan Exhibition in Aid of the Royal Northern Hospital; 25 Park Lane, London, 21 February - 5 April 1933; London; Royal Northern Hospital; 1933; no. 520, ill. p. 90.
Jean-Louis Vaudoyer, Une exposition d'art français a Londres, L'Illustration, 04 March 1933, 254; p. 254.
Geoffrey de Bellaigue, Anthony Blunt; Furniture Clocks and Gilt Bronzes: The James A de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor; 2 vols; Fribourg; Office du Livre; 1974; pp. 78-83, cat. no. 10, ill.
Geoffrey de Bellaigue; French Porcelain in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen; 3 vols; London; Royal Collection Enterprises Ltd.; 2009; vol. 2, p. 445, fig. 102.3.

Entry from (Bellaigue, 1974):


Indexed terms