Ravrio, Bronzier a Paris, Mensil H.ger. A fine French Empire Verde antico marble and ormolu striking mantel clock
- Height: 13¾” (35cm). Width: 7¾” (19.5cm). Depth: 5” (12.5cm).
The elegant green marble case is divided just below the arch top with an ormolu moulding that completely surrounds the case. The arch is mounted with a floral wreath and flowing ribbons and below the dial a female mask. A lanceolate leaf moulding is set upon the plinth, again completely surrounding the main body. The plinth rests on four half gadrooned cushion bun feet. The sides are mounted with a flaming torch with a laurel wreath and swags.
The white enamel dial is slightly convex with small black Roman numerals and a delicate minute track. It is signed ‘Ravrio, Bronzier a Paris, Mensil h’ and fitted with blued steel Breguet style hands. The bezel is beautifully decorated with leaves and berries and an internal beaded moulding. Above XII is a small square for fine regulation via the silk suspension.
The eight day two train movement strikes the hours and half hour on a bell. The back plate is mounted with a count wheel and the simple pendulum is suspended from a silk cord.
André-Antoine Ravrio, Paris.
André-Antoine Ravrio (1759-1814), one of the greatest French bronziers of the pre and post Revolution period, was a highly successful, well-respected businessman and an exceptionally gifted artist. In addition to his bronze work Ravrio wrote and published two volumes of poetry and had three of his plays performed at the Vaudeville Theatre, Paris. He came from a very interesting and well-connected background that must have proved useful during his later career. After attending a good school, Ravrio joined the Académie. He then trained as a fondeur under his father, André, whose family had been fondeurs since 1661.
In 1774 the great bronzier, Pierre-Philippe Thomire personally recommended Ravrio to the Compte d’Artois. Three years later he was received as a maître-fondeur and afterwards joined J-B Disnematin-Dorat, a Parisian doreur-argenteur.
Although Ravrio enjoyed success during Louis XVI’s reign, he achieved far greater fame under Napoleon. He took part in the first Exposition de l’Industrie, Paris, 1803 and then won a silver medal there in 1806. The same year he supplied a number of bronze furnishings for the Empress Joséphine’s apartments in the Tuileries and in 1810 was appointed as the Emperor’s chief bronzier. In this capicity he supplied some of the finest Empire bronze pieces, girandoles, candelabras and lamps as well as ornate furniture mounts and an array of fine sculptured clock cases for many of the Imperial residences at the Tuileries, Fontainebleau, Saint-Cloud, Versailles, Compiègne and Rambouillet. Ravrio also worked for the Quirinal in Rome, Monte-Cavallo, for Stupinigi near Turin, King Ludwig of Holland and many other notable figures.
A portrait of him by his cousin, H-F Riesener (1812, Louvre) shows a prosperous and well-educated man, seated with books, bronzes and an open sketchbook. Sadly, none of his three children survived, though he had an adopted son, Louis-Stanislas Lenoir-Ravrio (1783-1846) who became his partner in 1811 and continued the business after his death. It is presumed that he died from mercury poisoning especially since he bequeathed 3,000 francs to anyone who could protect craftsmen from the effects of mercury gilding. The prize was won three years later by the fondeur and chemist, Darcet.
Ravrio’s bronzes are regarded as some of the most beautiful of their kind. Examples can be seen among the finest collections including the above mentioned palaces as well as the Stedelijk Museum Lakenhal, the Upper Belvedere Vienna, Musée Massena Nice and the Residenz, Munich. His clock cases are among his very best works and interestingly appear to be the only pieces that he tended to sign
Mensil was located at Charnier des Innocents in 1806. From 1812 to 1815 he was working at rue Neuve Saint-Marc. Mensil’s fine clock movements can be found in the best cases by André-Antoine Ravrio and P. -P. Thomire. One clock was made for the Empress Joséphine for the Palais de l’Elysées and other examples can be found in the Stedelijk Museum at Leiden and at the castle at Stockholm.