Rare Gilt and Patinated Bronze Mantel Clock with the Figure of a Kneeling Egyptian, early Empire period
Call +33 1 45 61 44 55
Case attributed to Antoine-André Ravrio
The Egyptian Figure Based on a Model by Louis-Simon Boizot
Rare Gilt and Patinated Bronze Mantel Clock with the
Figure of a Kneeling Egyptian
Paris, early Empire period, circa 1805
Height 48 cm; width 17 cm; depth 23.5 cm
The round enamel dial, signed “Revel”, indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic numeral fifteen-minute intervals, by means of two blued steel Breguet hands. It is housed in a finely chased gilt and patinated bronze case. The bezel is formed by a snake with finely chased scales. The drum case housing the movement is placed within the folds of the draped robes of a magnificent bare-breasted kneeling Egyptian woman who is wearing a nemes headdress. Beneath the dial there is a finely chased lion’s head. The base is engraved with motifs Egyptian hieroglyph motifs and is bordered by a finely gadrooned frieze. The black marble plinth is raised upon four flattened ball feet.
The unusual design of the present clock and its magnificent kneeling Egyptian figure are based on drawings by Parisian designers and architects of the late 18th century, which had been inspired by Napoleon’s Egyptian campaign (1798-1801), a military campaign that also led to the Egyptian Revival style. The fascination for Egyptian culture, history, and arts inspired many decorative objects and works of art. The well-known Recueil de décorations intérieures by Percier and Fontaine includes a sketch of an Egyptian-inspired clock; that clock is also shown in C. Huchet de Quénetain’s Les styles Consulat et Empire, Paris, p. 88, fig. 55. Similar kneeling figures were also used in bronze furnishings, including a pair of candlesticks that is illustrated in G. and R. Wannenes, Les bronzes ornementaux et les objets montés de Louis XIV à Napoléon III, Milan, 2004, p. 372. A fender that was in the Empress’s bedroom in Laeken Palace is today in the Mobilier national à Paris (see M-F. Dupuy-Baylet, L’Heure, Le Feu, La Lumière, Les bronzes du Mobilier national 1800-1870, Dijon, 2010, p. 148, catalogue n° 78).
The kneeling Egyptian woman, almost certainly based on a model by sculptor Louis-Simon Boizot (1743-1809), was used by the bronze caster Antoine-André Ravrio for particularly elaborate clocks similar to the present clock. Only a small number of identical clocks are known to exist. Among them, one gilt bronze clock whose dial is signed “Janvier”, is today in a private collection (see M. Hayard, Antide Janvier 1751-1835, Horloger des étoiles, Sa vie à travers son œuvre, 2011, p. 272). A second example, whose dial is signed “Barrand”, is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Les éditions de l’Amateur, Paris, 1997, p. 383. One further clock was formerly in the collection of Daniel Brunet, a member of the Institute (sold in Paris, Mes Couturier-Nicolay, Palais d’Orsay, February 15, 1978, lot 28).
Antoine-André Ravrio (1759-1814)
Made master bronzier in 1777, he is one of the most important Parisian bronze workers of the late 18th century and the early Empire period. Supplier of bronzes to the Imperial Garde-meuble, Ravrio helped furnish Napoleon’s residences, along with Thomire and Galle; he also worked for some of the most influential figures of the time, including Marshals of the Empire. Today certain of his works are in the collections of the Mobilier national in Paris.
Louis-Simon Boizot (1743 - 1809)
The son of Antoine Boizot, a designer at the Gobelins tapestry manufacture, Boizot worked in the atelier of sculptor René-Michel Slodtz (1705–1764), who also trained Houdon. Boizot married Marguerite Virginie Guibert, the daughter of sculptor Honoré Guibert. In 1778 he was admitted to the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture and exhibited at the yearly salons until 1800. His portrait busts of Louis XVI and Joseph II were created in 1777 and made in bisque porcelain at Sèvres.
From 1773 to 1800 Boizot directed the sculpture workshop of the Sèvres porcelain Manufactory, producing the series of unglazed biscuit figures with a matte finish resembling that of marble.
Boizot also created terracotta designs for gilt-bronze clock cases, such as that of the allegorical "Avignon" clock in the Wallace Collection in London, which was cast and chased by Pierre Gouthière in 1777.
Revel à Paris
Very little is known about this clockmaker, who was well known and respected throughout his career. Briefly mentioned in Tardy’s Dictionnaire des horlogers with the first name of Joseph, he was in fact named Joseph-Marie and died in Paris in 1811. After having become master clockmaker, he opened a workshop in the Vieille rue du Temple, and is later recorded in the Palais Royal between 1787 and 1790, then in the Palais Egalité circa 1800, and lastly, in the Palais Tribunat between 1804 and 1806. Certain estate inventories from the early decades of the 19th century mention pieces made by him. In 1817 a clock made by Revel was listed in an inventory drawn up after the death of Adélaïde de Lespinasse-Langeac, the wife of the chevalier de Costalin; in 1821 a second one was recorded as having belonged to Anne-Charlotte-Dorothée, Countess de Médem and widow of the Duke de Courlande.
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