Lot n° 127
25000 - 30000
Result without fees
: 31 000EUR
Alarm watch signed 'Jean Vallier ALyon',... - Lot 127 - Chayette & Cheval
Alarm watch signed 'Jean Vallier ALyon', circa 1620.
Gilt brass dial (wear), fully engraved. Applied silver hour scale with Roman numerals and fleur-de-lys markers for the half hours, gilt brass alarm disc with Arabic numerals.
The centre is engraved in relief with foliage inhabited by a fox, a hunting dog and a duck. The perimeter is engraved with a series of figures. They leave in the direction of the needle of the watch:
at XII is a triangle representing the divine light, worshipped by a reclining man, a curved arrow between his calves. Below him, between II and IIII, is a woman holding a mirror: Pride. Next, between V and VI, is the figure of Justice, blindfolded, carrying her sword and scales. Then, between VI h and VII ,h is the figure of a woman lying on her back feeding a baby (the Virgin), while between VII h and X h is the figure of a young woman (St. Blandine), being devoured by a lion. Above her, from X h to XII h, a man carries a cross and a book, probably symbolizing the Church, he looks towards the triangle of the divine light.
Round movement in gilt brass, iron and blued steel, openworked and engraved cock, numbered silver count wheel, escapement with rod, barrel and fusee with gut string, striking on gong by two hammers; gilt brass case engraved and openworked with flowers and foliage, engraved hinge, spherical pendant. D. 68mm. With a ring key.
Mentioned in documents from 1596, Jean Vallier (circa 1575/80-1649) was a master clockmaker in Lyon, at the latest in 1602. In 1605 he married Madeleine Noytolon, from a family of three registered watchmakers. He had four children with her between 1606 and 1615.
Two 'clock-watches', one of which was made of brass like this one, were sold by Vallier on commission in 1617: one for 25 livres, the other, probably more elaborate, for 43 livres.
Thirteen pieces of Vallier's production are also listed in Vial Côte's 1927 book on Lyon's clockmakers (although they considered two of them dubious; see below). Others can be mentioned, and in particular a striking watch similar to ours, but much more worn and with its dial replaced, in the Musée du Temps in Besançon.
On the movement, next to the balance wheel, there is a rudimentary scale for a setting scale, scratched on the plate. It is probably the remainder of a modernization of the watch by the addition of a balance spring, removed at the end of the 19th century to obtain a purer object. It is perhaps at this time that the cockerel was rededicated and the two wheels on the plate blued.
Finally, we can think that the modesty of an owner led him to scratch the sexual part of the naked woman, representing the Vanity.
The unusual iconographic pattern around the dial can be interpreted as a representation of the universe watched over by the divine power that man must worship. The vanity of earthly things and pride are represented by the lady in the mirror. She will be judged but, thanks to the redemption exercised by Christ, which inspired the devotion of the martyrs, including St Blandine (one of the forty-eight martyrs of Lyon and patron saint of the city), the Church can show the way to divine grace. The scene in the center of the sundial represents the earthly world of plants and animals, also regulated by God, the benevolent one.
The engraving on the dial can be compared with that on a calendar and alarm clock by Vallier, now in the British Museum, London (see Thompson, 34-5), a watch by Pierre Louteau (also a Lyonnais clockmaker) in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (ttps://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/collection/BK-17012), or a cruciform watch on a stand, also by Louteau, from the collections of the Time Museum, Rockford, and sold at Sotheby's New York, 19 June 2002 (lot 102).
Various authors, Montres Merveilles, collection musée du Temps, Besançon, Paris 2010, 54-5.
Clavdivs Côte and Evgène Vial Les horlogers lyonnais de 1550 à 1650, Lyon 1927, 116-21; 240-45.
Sotheby's, Masterpieces from the Time Museum, part two, New York 19 June 2002.
David Thompson, The British Museum: Watches 2008.
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