This exquisite mantel clock was designed in the 19th Century in France, inspired by an earlier model by François Vion, a famous Parisian metalworker of the 18th Century. In this design, as in Vion’s, the Three Graces are depicted holding up a spherical clock with a revolving, or ‘cercle tournant’, dial. Vion’s clock was an innovative piece of decorative art, and it is now permanently on display at the Louvre museum in Paris.
This clock stands on a shaped, triangular base, which has been crafted from white marble, set on gilt bronze toupie feet. The base is decorated with scrolling, gilt bronze mounts and beading. The Three Graces — the classical personifications of youth and beauty, merriment and elegance — stand on this platform, and together hold up the spherical clock. The Graces are pictured as beautiful, young women, seen in the nude. They also hold heavy flower garlands in their hands, which hang in between them, and loop around their waists, linking the three figures together. The clock above them has been crafted from tole, painted dark blue and mounted with floral gilt bronze motifs. The revolving white enamel dial features Roman Numerals and Arabic numbers. Sitting on top of the clock is a gilt bronze winged cherub, possibly Cupid himself, the god of erotic love.
This clock is not only a wonderful piece of design — with its clever ‘cercle tournant’ dial — it is also an exquisite piece of decorative art, displaying gilt bronze sculpture of the highest quality.