The Greek god Apollo drives his Chariot of the Sun across the sky atop this exceptional Empire clock. The clock face is cleverly contained within the wheel of Apollo's chariot, while the dial indicates the hour on Arabic numerals with Breguet hands. The impressive timepiece was crafted by Pierre-Philippe Thomire, the most prominent bronzier of the First French Empire. Thomire's mastery over his craft is on display in the extraordinary quality of the clock's chasing and gilding, and a high level of detail is captured throughout the design. The chariot is decorated with motifs that include garlands of leaves, rosettes, eagle's heads, stylized palmettes and balusters with spiral fluting. The group rests upon an arc that is adorned with cloud motifs; its blue enamel arch is decorated with stars that are reflected on the mirrored base. As a whole, it is an extraordinary example of Empire-period sculpture.
The spectacular model was quite successful during the early 19th century among important collectors of clocks, including England's King George IV and the Russian Czar Paul I. Today, these models can be found in the British Royal Collection (London) and the Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg).
Pierre-Philippe Thomire was the most important Parisian bronzier of the Empire period. Early in his career, he worked for Pierre Gouthière, the fondeur of the king, and toward the mid-1770s he began working with Louis Prieur. He later became one of the bronziers attached to the Manufacture Royale de Sèvres, creating the bronze mounts for most of the important creations of the day. After the Revolution, he purchased the fashionable premises of the marchand-mercier Martin-Eloi Lignereuz, and soon thereafter became the most important supplier of furniture bronzes for chateaux and Imperial residences throughout France.
31" wide x 10 3/4" deep x 30 1/2" high
Encyclopedie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle, Paris, 1997, by P. Kjelberg, p. 418 (illustrated)
"Les Pendules au Char," in Bulletin de l'Association des Collectionneurs et Amateurs d'Horlogerie Ancienne, Paris 1993, by Y. and M. Gay, no. 66