French Marble Clock
This French table clock, made of a smooth, buttery-coloured marble, dates to the 19th century. Although similar in shape to carriage-clocks, the top of this piece is adorned with a bronze finial rather than a handle to carry it. The rectangular shape of the clock is given definition through its decoration and its wider base. At the top, a ledge is decorated with an alternating pattern of dentils (square blocks, often found on the cornices of buildings), and beehive-like shapes, each of which points to a delicate, high relief carving of a flower. Framing the central section of the clock are four larger flower carvings, reminiscent of sunflowers. The dial of the clock is accentuated by a gold band and disc. Breguet style hands, distinctive for their thin arms which end with a crescent moon-like tip, are seen pointing to the roman numerals on the dial. Abraham-Louis Breguet (1743–1823) was a Swiss watch and clock maker working in Paris, who was known to have designed clocks for Napoleon I (1769–1821). The design of these dial hands was particularly popular in the 18th and 19th centuries and are known to have adorned both Breguet clocks and clocks by other makers. Beneath the dial, echoing its shape, is a crescent of flowers and leaves, seemingly pinned to the face of the clock by small flower carvings. This distinguished, fully functional piece is sure to make an elegant addition to any desk or mantle.
At this time in France, famous poet and author Victor Hugo (1802–1885) wrote his two best-known French historical novels. The first of these, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was published in 1831, and contributed to renewed societal interest in Gothic architecture. The novel became so popular that the City of Paris was effectively shamed into restoring the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, which had fallen into disrepair, but was now attracting thousands of tourists who had read the novel. The second novel, Les Misérables, was published in 1962, and is considered to be one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. Both stories have retained their popularity over the centuries, and have been adapted in different forms in multiple languages.