Roosevelt New Orleans clock proves time is valuable
July 11, 2009
THE PIECE: A 19th century monumental conical timepiece known as "The Paris Exhibition Clock, " crafted by renowned clockmaker E. Farcot and famed sculptor Albert Ernerst Carrier de Belleuse in about 1867.
THE OWNER: In keeping with a tradition among Waldorf Astoria properties to feature a grand, signature clock in the lobby of each of its hotels, the Paris Exhibition Clock was bought to become the centerpiece for the newly renovated and reopened Roosevelt New Orleans.
KEEPING TIME: Purchased through local antiques dealer M.S. Rau by the hotel's developer, Sam Friedman, president of Dimension Development Corp., The Roosevelt's clock is a museum-quality piece and is the largest conical clock known to exist. Standing nearly 10 feet high, it features a large base carved from solid Algerian onyx topped by a bronze sculpture of a robed woman holding a scepter, which rotates soundlessly in her hand. Believed to have been displayed at both the Paris Exhibitions of 1867 and 1878, it was crafted by two of France's most important artisans: Farcot and de Belleuse. This one-of-a-kind timepiece is historically significant as one of the most accurate time keepers of its period, as well as an example of 19th century master craftsmanship.
THE SCULPTOR: Albert Ernest Carriere de Belleuse (1824-1887) was one of the most prolific and versatile 19th century sculptors. His wide range of work included public monuments such as "Massena" in Nice and allegorical relief for Parisian buildings, including the facades of the Palais Des Tuileries and Banque de France. Known for his knowledge of anatomy and adept characterizations, he was highly sought after as a portraitist. He was a charter member of a professional organization for the applied arts in France (the Union Centrale des Beaux-Arts Appliques a l'Industrie) founded in the early 1860s, and was important in elevating the stature of applied arts overall. He was a major influence on the careers of many young sculptors who worked for him, most notably Auguste Rodin, and was made an officer of the Legion d'Honneur in 1885.
THE CLOCKMAKER: Eugene Farcot was perhaps the best known of all 19th century conical clockmakers and helped popularize the pendulum type used in the Paris Exhibition Clock. According to Rau Antiques, Farcot established himself at the Rue de Trois Bornes in 1860 where he remained for 30 years mastering his craft. Under the signature "E.Farcot, " Farcot also made a few small clocks with the conical pendulum used in the Paris Exhibition Clock.
WHAT IT'S WORTH: Conical pendulum clocks (the pendulum bob moves in a circle rather than back and forth, so the rod traces out a cone) are surprisingly accurate and are cherished by collectors for their masterful engineering as well as for their aesthetic appeal. While the hotel wouldn't reveal how much it paid for the clock, all working examples of conical timepieces from E. Farcot and other clockmakers of his time period are scarce and highly valued.
-- JILL ANDING
Photo: The 19th century clock in the lobby of the Roosevelt New Orleans hotel stands nearly 10 feet high and features a large base carved from solid onyx. A scepter held by the woman on top, who is sculpted in bronze, rotates in her hand.