Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Wall barometer-thermometer

Clockmaker: Lange de Bourbon (French, active 1750–75)
ca. 1760
Oak veneered with rosewood, gilt-bronze mounts
Height: 45 3/4 in. (116.2 cm)
Credit Line:
The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 539
The dial of the thermometer is signed by the barometer maker Lange de Bourbon, about whom little is known. He signed other barometers of the period, including one of about 1770 in the Metropolitan Museum, where the dial reads: LANGE DE BOURBON, FAISEUR DE BAROMETRE DU ROY.[1]

The thermometer is on the Réaumer scale (where water freezes at 0° and boils at 80°), which prevailed in France in the second half of the eighteenth century. The dates on the dial record several extremes of temperature in Paris, from a high of 32° Re in 1753 to a low of -15° Re in 1709. Three other cities are included for their low temperatures: Astrakhan, "Petersbour" (modern day Saint Petersburg), and "Kebec" (Quebec), which reached -33 Re in 1743. The latest date on the dial is 1754. Among other such inscriptions are "Ch[aleur] d'un Malade" and "Ch[aleur] de Versoies" (indicating the temperature at which silkworms were raised). The barometer records the standard range of weather indications.

A number of wall barometer-thermometers or clock-thermometers of this design are known, with movements by various makers or unsigned. With small variations these objects are all mounted identically, and the group as a whole shows that this model was available in Paris in the 1760s and could be adapted to suit the individual clock- or barometer-maker. These works are (1) barometer-thermometer, private collection, Paris, the case stamped by the ébéniste Joseph de Saint-Germain (maître 1750);[2] (2) barometer-thermometer, Drottningholm, Stockholm;[3] (3) barometer-thermometer, formerly in the collection of Ernest Rechnitzer;[4] (4) clock-thermometer with movement by Jean-André Lepautre (1720–1787) and matching barometer-thermometer, both formerly in the collection of the comte Greffulhe; [5] clock-thermometer, the clock signed "Giles Lainé à Paris" (active about 1760–90), the thermometer signed "par Ronquetti Rue St. Antoine," Huntington Art Gallery, San Marino;[6] (6) barometer-thermometer and clock, the barometer and clock signed by David Frédéric Dubois, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and (7) barometer-thermometer and clock, the barometer and clock signed by Ferdninand Berthoud (1727–1807), Alexander & Berendt Ltd., London, 1983.

[Bill Rieder, 1984]

[1] C. C. Dauterman, J. Parker, and E. A. Standen, Decorative Art from the Samuel H. Kress Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, London, 1964, no. 66, fig. 230.

[2] A. Gonzalez-Palacios, "Le vendite Demidoff e Ruspoli Talleyrand," Arte Illustrata no. 17–18 (1969), p. 125, fig. 18.

[3] J. Böttiger, Fran de Kungliga Slotten, Stockholm, 1925, fig. 64.

[4] Sale, Christie's, London, May 19, 1955, lot 46.

[5] Sale, Sotheby's, London, July 23, 1937, lot 45.

[6] R. Wark, French Decorative Art in the Huntington Collection, San Marino, 1979, p. 64, fig. 86.
Signature: At top of thermomenter dial: LANGE DE BOURBON
Baron Erich von Goldschmidt-Rothschild (until 1931; sale, Hermann Ball & Paul Graupe, Berlin, March 23– 25, 1931, lot 180); Jack and Belle Linsky (until 1982; to MMA)
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