Monumental Gilt Bronze and Green Marble Mantel Clock “Achilles Swearing Revenge at the Bier of Patroclus”, Empire period

Pierre-Claude Raguet-Lépine

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Lépine Her du Roi
The model created in 1807 by Etienne Blavet
and probably sold by Pierre-François Feuchère
Monumental Gilt Bronze and Green Marble Mantel Clock
“Achilles Swearing Revenge at the Bier of Patroclus”
Paris, Empire period, circa 1810
Height 88 cm; width 69 cm; depth 27.2 cm

Provenance:
Collection of the Duke of Caraman

Bibliography:
H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 348 (illustration).

The gilt metal dial signed “Lépine Her du Roi” indicates the Roman numeral hours and the minute graduations by means of two steel hands. It is housed in a case shaped like a classical shield that is elaborately chased with motifs, including scrolls and fantastic winged beasts, and is framed by a frieze of pastilles and diamonds. It is fitted into a rectangular green marble column with a gilt bronze base that is decorated with a frieze of stylized leaves, and is surmounted by a laurel crown, a drapery, a sheath and a funerary urn inscribed “A Patrocle” (To Patroclus). To one side stands a magnificent ancient Greek warrior who wearing a tunic, sandals, and a crested helmet. He represents Achilles, as he bears his sword and swears to avenge the death of his friend Patroclus. At his feet lies a finely chased suit of armor. The green marble base is adorned with lictors’ fasces; its sides are decorated with intertwined olive leaf crowns. The façade is adorned with three low relief scenes depicting scenes from the life of Achilles, including his education at the hands of the centaur Chiron. The molded green marble base is adorned with a stylized leaf frieze.

One example of this spectacular clock, illustrating one of the best-known episodes of the Trojan War, was sold for 3400 francs during the 1812 sale of the Feuchère collection. The hero Achilles, son of King Peleus and the nymph Thetis, had fought against the Trojans, but had withdrawn from battle after a dispute with King Agamemnon. He returned to the battlefield when his friend Patroclus was killed by Hector. This led to the fall of Troy, as well as to his own death, when he was hit in the heel by an arrow shot by Paris. Among the small number of similar clocks known today, one example in gilt bronze and red porphyry marble, with a movement by Lesieur, is illustrated in J-D. Augarde, Les ouvriers du Temps, Genève, 1996, p. 140, fig. 101. Another clock is in the collection of Ludwigsburg Palace near Stuttgart, the former summer residence of the Dukes of Württemberg. One further clock, dating from a later period, is in the Musée national du château de Versailles et de Trianon (Inv. T1039).

Pierre-François Feuchère (1737-1823)
During the two final decades of the 19th century, the caster-gilder Pierre-François Feuchère became the principal rival of the Parisian caster-gilder Pierre-Philippe Thomire. He created fine and unusual pieces that were commissioned by a wealthy French and international clientele, including certain influential German aristocrats.

Etienne Blavet
A bronze caster who was named Master in 1772
 
Pierre-Claude Raguet-Lépine Royal clockmaker Pierre-Claude Raguet, known as Raguet-Lépine after his father-in-law Jean-Antoine I Lépine, with whom he worked closely, he was born in Dôle, and in 1782 married Jean-Antoine’s daughter Pauline. Having already invested 16,000 livres in his future father-in law’s business, he purchased a third share in 1783 and eventually took over the business in June 1784, using the name Lépine à Paris, Horloger du Roi. Raguet-Lépine was a member of the jury responsible for choosing a new Republican time system (1793); in 1805 he became Horloger breveté de Sa Majesté l’Impératrice-Reine, and four years later was named Horloger de l’Impératrice Joséphine. His clientele included Napoleon I, Jérôme, King of Westphalia, Charles IV King of Spain, the princes Talleyrand, Kourakine (the Russian Ambassador) Schwarzenberg (the Austrian Ambassador), the comte de Provence and Louis XV’s daughters at the Château de Bellevue. Due to his success he employed a large workforce, including several of his relatives: Jean-Antoine II Lépine who managed the workshop, Jean-Louis Lépine in Geneva and Jacques Lépine in Kassel, Germany. His cases were supplied by the renowned bronziers Pierre-Philippe Thomire, F. Rémond, F. Vion, E. Martincourt, the Feuchères and Duports; his dials by such fine enamellists as Coteau, Dubuisson, Cave, Merlet and Barbichon. Today Raguet-Lépine’s work may be seen in the Louvre, the Château de Compiègne, the British Royal Collection, the Musée International d’Horlogerie at La Chaux-de-Fonds, the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum Furtwangen, the Schloss Wilhemshöhe Kassel, the Patrimonio Nacional in Spain, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Object Name: Monumental Gilt Bronze and Green Marble Mantel Clock “Achilles Swearing Revenge at the Bier of Patroclus”, Empire period
Artist name: Pierre-Claude Raguet-Lépine
Reference: P234
   
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