Sevres porcelain clock auctions with 141% increase

A Sevres porcelain clock that once graced ill-fated French King Louis XVI's Versailles bathroom has auctioned in the UK for £433,875 ($661,226).

The clock, destined to return to its original home, was bought by the Chateau de Versailles, where it is likely to be put on display.

Imperial Sevres clock
King Louis XVI clearly approved of dolphin motifs in his bathrooms

Exquisitely hand-gilded laurel leaves are apparent on the oviform body of the clock, while a pair of gilt-white dolphins, each spouting jets of gilded water, adorn the piece's sloping sides.

Date-marked 1775, the neo-classical porcelain clock sold with a strong 141% increase on its £180,000 top estimate - testament to the imperial French manufactory's enduring reputation as one of the finest porcelain producers in European history.

Among the average citizens of 18th century France, ostentatious Sevres porcelain came to represent the excesses of the crown: decadent gilding, seemingly interminable and largely unnecessary degrees of ornamentation and prohibitively high price tags embodied the very notions of absolute monarchy against which the French populace eventually revolted.

Following the French revolution, the market was flooded with Sevres, a vast quantity of which was bought up by the English aristocracy. King George IV's particular fascination with the Bourbon dynasty is reflected in his acquisitions, in particular, his porcelain busts of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI.

The magnificent clock crossed the auction block at Christie's on July 4. Robert Copley, head of furniture and decorative arts at the auction house, said of the sale: "We are delighted that the Sevres porcelain ormolu-mounted blue-ground vase-clock was purchased by Chateau de Versailles and will be returning to its original home."

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