19th-Century French Black Marble and Bronze Mystery Clock

  • This magnificent, sculptural mystery clock was crafted by prolific French clockmaker Samuel Marti
  • An elegant bronze of Roman goddess Ceres and a putto-like child support the gilt and glass pendulum
  • A complex twin train movement is housed inside a resplendent black marble and gilt plinth base
  • Gilded-bronze lion’s head side-handles and claw feet ornament this intricately beautiful timepiece
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 30-9638

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This rare and elegant 19th-century French mystery clock is crowned by a graceful Neoclassical bronze of Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture and motherhood. The maternal figure gracefully supports a pendulum terminating in a glass bob, while a charming putto-like child plays at the hem of her draped toga, gently rocking and pulsing the pendulum connected by a silk thread. The plinth base shaped of black marble below displays the clock’s dial, the Roman numeral chapter ring and hands encircled by intricate gilt ornamentations. Gilded-bronze lion’s head side-handles decorate the plinth’s sides as lion’s paw claw feet finish the stately design. The movement’s internal engineering boasts a complex twin train movement with crank and stirrup escapement striking on a bell and Brocot escapement.

Samuel Marti — one of the most prolific Swiss clockmakers in Paris during the middle of the 19th century — is the horological genius behind this magnificent design. After relocating from his native Switzerland to Montbéliard, France in 1830, Marti founded the Marti & Cie clockmaking firm in 1832 with two business partners, becoming the sole owner in 1841. From the early 1860s, the Marti & Cie firm worked closely with Japy Freres & Cie and A Roux & Cie (Vincenti & Cie) to establish a Paris-based business at Rue Vieille-du-Temple focused solely on marketing their intricate Swiss clock movements. The company became indomitable in the horological arts and manufacturing after winning several medals at various Paris exhibitions, beginning with a bronze medal as early as 1860. The Marti and Jarpy families remained close, and the two houses continued collaborating even after Samuel Marti’s death in 1869. Samuel Marti’s son, Samuel Augustus Marti (born 1857) took over the management of the company in 1890. The Marti-Jarpy legacy only continued to intertwine when Samuel Augustus’ son, André Samuel Jules Marti (1890-1958), wed Jenny Alice Japy, a descendant of Auguste Julien Japy in the 20th century.

Circa 1880

Twin train movement stamped “Samuel Marti”

Provence: The Joseph M Meraux Collection of Rare and Unusual Clocks, sold at Sotheby’s New York on June 28, 1993, lot 457.

A similar example of this clock is illustrated by Derek Roberts in Mystery, Novelty and Fantasy Clocks (Atglen 1999), page 251 fig. 21-9.

11 1/2" wide x 9" deep x 23" high

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19th-Century French Black Marble and Bronze Mystery Clock
Maker: Samuel Marti & Cie
Period: 19th Century
Origin: France
Type: Mystery
Depth: 9.0 Inches
Width: 11.5 Inches
Height: 23.0 Inches

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