An Important Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock with Matte and Burnished Finishing “The God Apollo, Protector of the Sciences and the Arts”, Empire period
Call +33 1 45 61 44 55
Attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire
An Important Gilt Bronze Mantel Clock with Matte and Burnished Finishing
“The God Apollo, Protector of the Sciences and the Arts”
Paris, Empire period, circa 1805
Height 55 cm; width 41 cm; depth 12.5 cm
The round white enamel dial, marked “à Paris”, indicates the Roman numeral hours and the Arabic fifteen-minute intervals by means of two pierced gilt bronze hands. It is housed in a finely chased gilt bronze case with matte and burnished finishing. The movement is housed in a case with concave sides that is adorned with a motif depicting the serpent Python, vanquished by Apollo. The clock is surmounted by a magnificent mythological figure depicting the seated Apollo, wearing a laurel crown and classical drapery. He holds a lyre on his left knee; set on the plinth at his feet are a harp with a female figure that terminates in spiraling laurel garlands, an allegory of Daphne, manuscripts, a quiver with arrows, a mandolin and a blue celestial globe on a base adorned with ram’s heads decorated with laurel garlands and dove feet. The quadrangular base with protruding elements is decorated with palmettes, C-scrolls and flowers, tripods supporting flaming urns and a wide reserve on the façade depicting an interior scene with allegories of painting, sculpture, literature and astrology. The clock is supported on six toupie feet that emerge from acanthus leaf bouquets and are chased with laurel toruses and matte bands with lyres are set against laurel and olive branches.
The theme of Apollo as god and protector of the des Arts and Sciences was one of the favorite iconographic motifs of Parisian bronziers and clockmakers during the first two decades of the 19th century. A clock comparable to the present one was formerly in the collection of the Andrés de Ribera Foundation in Jerez de la Frontera (illustrated in L. Montanes, Catalogo illustrado del Museo de Relojes, Fundacion Andrés de Ribera, 1982, p. 42, fig. 25). A second example is on display in the Catherine Palace in Pushkin, near Saint Petersburg (illustrated in A. Chenevière, Russian Furniture, The Golden Age 1780-1840, London, 1988, p. 131, fig. 120). A third is in the Villa Masséna in Nice (see L. Mézin, La Villa Masséna du Premier Empire à la Belle Epoque, 2010, p. 52-53, catalogue n° 9). A clock that is identical to the present clock is in the Spanish Royal Collection in Madrid (illustrated in J. Ramon Colon de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio nacional, Madrid, 1987, p. 261, catalogue n° 246); another example, which is now lacking the enameled celestial sphere, was delivered by the Lepautes in August 1806 for the apartments of Madame Mère, the mother of Napoléon, in Fontainebleau Castle; it is still part of the collection there (illustrated in J-P. Samoyault, Musée national du Château de Fontainebleau, Catalogue des collections de mobilier, 1-Pendules et bronzes d’ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire, RMN, Paris, 1989, p. 52, catalogue n° 8).
Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1757-1843) Having become a master founder on May 18, 1772, he was the most important Parisian bronzier of the first quarter of the 18th century and the early years of the following century. Initially he worked for Pierre Gouthière, chaser-founder to the king, and as of the mid-1770s he worked with Louis Prieur. He later became one of the official bronziers of the Royal Sèvres Factory, creating bronze he bought the stock of Martin-Eloi Lignereux and became the main supplier of bronze furnishings for the imperial palaces. He also had a number of wealthy several of Napoleon’s marshals. He retired in the mid-1820s and died in 1843.
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