This beautiful clock was crafted in France in the late 19th Century. The clock is a monument to this period of industrialisation and technological innovation, being decorated with an allegory of Labour.
Labour is depicted in patinated spelter as a classical female figure wearing a draped gown and a laurel wreath. She holds a sprocket-wheel—a part of a machine—and a long-handled blacksmith’s hammer. A miniature patinated spelter model of a steam train is positioned near her feet. Labour sits beside a patinated spelter drum case which is mounted with a circular black marble dial with gilt Roman Numerals. This is encircled by a gilt spelter egg-and-dart ring, and is set behind a glass lens with a beaded gilt spelter bezel. The clock case is topped by a patinated spelter laurel wreath, which is propped up on either a pair of tongs or a compass. As a traditional symbol of honour and victory, the laurel wreath may, in this instance, represent the glory of industrial progress. To the left of the clock case, there is a group of patinated spelter tools, including an anvil and a set square.
The clock case and accompanying sculptures are set on a stepped rectangular base which is veneered in malachite, a semiprecious green stone. The sides of the base are fitted with patinated spelter machine-like handles, and its front is decorated with patinated spelter low-relief panels. These depict groups of putti engaged in various activities, including writing and playing musical instruments, and a profile portrait of a male head. A patinated spelter leaf-and-dart band extends along the width of the base’s lower section. The base stands on patinated spelter feet, the front two of which are shaped like paws with foliate flourishes, and the front central foot is decorated with scrollwork, stylised foliage and a lion head mask.