List Price £12,000
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By Le Comptoir Général (French, founded second half 19th Century)
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This ormolu mounted malachite set consists of a central clock, flanked by two vases of similar design. While this piece was crafted in the early 20th Century, the malachite veneer is a more recent addition.
The clock stands on an oval, shaped malachite plinth, which is raised up on four ormolu toupie feet. This plinth is mounted, on its centre front, with an ormolu laurel wreath. Six columns stand on the base, each with an ormolu base, smooth malachite shaft and simple, ormolu capital. These columns support a pierced ormolu gallery, which is broken at its centre by the clock dial. The white enamel dial, with foliate ormolu hands and Arabic Numerals, is decorated with colourful paintings of floral swags and signed ‘Comptoir General / J. Pratt / 9 Blvd Poisonniere / Paris’. It is set within an ornamented by beaded ormolu bezel, and cylindrical ormolu case. An ormolu foliage swag decorates the space below the clock case, and a pendulum, with an ormolu end cast as a basket full of flowers, hangs down between the six columnar supports. Two malachite urns spouting ormolu flames stand on the gallery and flank the clock case. The circular case is topped by an ormolu bow and by a miniature urn. This urn stands on an ormolu foot on a square malachite base, and has a malachite body, which is fitted with foliate ormolu handles and topped by an ormolu pinecone finial.
Two malachite and ormolu vases flank the central clock. These vases stand on oval malachite bases, each raised up on four ormolu toupie feet. They feature shaped, ormolu stems, which are topped by malachite bowls, mounted with foliate ormolu friezes. The vases are fitted with leafy, ormolu handles, which take the form of cornucopia, terminating in clusters of ripe fruit. Shaped malachite lids top the vases, and are surmounted by ormolu floral finials.
The clock set was retailed by Le Comptoir Général, a prestigious decorative and fine art store in France. At the time this piece was crafted, the Comptoir Général was represented by J. Pratt and located at 9, boulevard Poissonnière, a fashionable shopping district in Paris. Founded in the second half of the 19th Century, the Comptoir Général was part of the generation of department stores — which included the Bon Marché, Grands Magasins du Louvre, and La Samaritaine — that emerged in this period and revolutionised shopping practices. These stores sold a variety of luxury items, which were displayed in an expertly disordered way, intended to overwhelm and excite the beholder.
Clock: Height 48cm, width 27cm, depth 48cm
Vases: Height 31cm, width 14cm, depth 11cm
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