Object Description

This gilt bronze (ormolu) mantel clock—which measures an impressive 91cm (36 inches) in height—is a magnificent piece of design. The clock was crafted in France when Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon III) was Emperor of France (from 1852-1870). The piece is designed in the Second Empire style, which is characterised by its bold Neoclassical motifs.

Shaped like a classical Baroque building, the arched clock case is topped by a cupola form, with a pomegranate finial. The arch is decorated with two sculptural putti figures, who pull back a piece of fabric to reveal a central cartouche. At the centre of the case, there is a circular clock dial, which is decorated with ornate relief work and Roman Numerals within white enamel plaques. The arched case terminates in two acanthus leaf scrolls, and is supported on a gadrooned cushion-form base. This is decorated with Grotesque masks on the centre of its front and reverse side. Drapery swags hang down from the masks’ mouths and wrap around the raised arms of four sculptural women who carry the clock case. The women are dressed in loose, sheer gowns and adopt elegant contrapposto poses. The clock case is also supported by a pedestal, decorated with scrolled acanthus leaves and strapwork. The clock is set on a shaped and splayed base, which is ornamented with bands of foliage and strapwork.

For a comparable model, see Christie’s London Sale 1113, 14th March 2013, ‘The Opulent Eye—500 Years: Decorative Arts Europe’, Lot 82.

Object Classification

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