A Louis XV ormolu mounted vernis Martin console clock, ‘grand cartel’, signed on the white dial ‘olin à paris’. White enamel chapters surround the centre pierced ormolu hands. The case is decorated overall Vernis Martin with flowers and on the console is depicted a scene taken from ‘Fables de La Fontaine’, ‘Le coq et le renard’.
In French interior design, vernis Martin is a type of imitation lacquer named after the French brothers Guillaume and Etienne-Simon Martin. It imitated Chinese lacquer and European subjects and was applied to a wide variety of items, from furniture to coaches. It is said to have been made by heating oil and copal and then adding Venetian turpentine.
Jean-Charles Olin’s (d. after 1789) name is associated with a number of examples. Notably a Louis XV gilt bronze mounted Meissen porcelain pendule ‘à l’éléphant’ in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and another clock housed at Schloss La Fasanerie, Fulda. Olin first worked as an ouvrier libre but was received as a maître-horloger in October 1776. He served as deputé of his guild later in 1777. Olin used some of the best Parisian case makers. They included the ébéniste Antoine Foullet, the ébéniste doreur Jean Goyer and the esteemed bronzier Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain.
Jean de La Fontaine was a French poet and fabulist, who lived and worked during the 17th century. For special contributions to French literature he was elected to the French Academy of Sciences in 1684. Published in 1668, the collection of fables brought La Fontaine international fame. The works of the ancient Greeks, Indian storytellers, other fabulists and folk tales about animals serve as a source of inspiration for the author. Drawing motives from these works, La Fontaine brought new life to the fable genre.