Empire mantel clock “Aphrodite in her chariot” after design by Jean-André Reiche

Fascinating Empire clock “Aphrodite in her chariot” after design by Jean-André Reiche

Rare Empire mantel clock with the chariot of Aphrodite (Venus) in gilt bronze and sea green marble symbolizing faithful love, after a design by Jean-André Reiche. A woman in the guise of Aphrodite plays with her dog in her swan-drawn chariot in this fine example of design by Jean-André Reiche. Aphrodite wears an empire dress that has slipped from her left shoulder as she plays with her dog revealing her left breast. The costume and hairstyle reflect the Empire style fashion popularized through the paintings of Jacques-Louis David and adopted by the women in Napoleon’s court. On closer inspection we see that the chariot actually has the shape of a horn of plenty (cornucopia). This beautiful Empire clock also evokes the mythological subject of Aphrodite who was born from the foam of the sea. Scattered around the clock are references to the marine origins of Aphrodite: the lobster, seashell and fish-goat.

The clock stands on fine ormolu toupee feet which support a  sea green marble base. This base carries decorations of shells, masks and sea monsters.

The movement with anchor escapement and silk thread suspension strikes the hour and half hours on a bell.  It has blued-steel Breguet style hands for the hours and minutes. The white enamel dial carries the signature Courvorsier à Paris.

This Empire mantel clock is in an exceptional and perfectly working condition. Also, it has been cleaned and serviced by a professional clock maker. The clock comes complete with its pendulum, key and bell.

Details of the Empire clock “Aphrodite in her chariot”

Paris, circa 1810.
Dimensions: height 33 cm, width 30 cm, depth 13 cm.
Weight: 9.4 kg.

Jean-André Reiche (1752-1817)

The clock is one of a number designed by Jean-André Reiche (1752-1817) who was one of the leading Parisian bronziers during the Empire period. Like Jean-Simon Deverberie, he gained particular renown for his Pendules Au Nègre. The son of a shop owner from Leipzig, Reiche was baptised in Leipzig’s Sainte-Nicole Church on 13th August 1752, where his surname was recorded as Reich. Jean-André probably changed his name to accord with French conventions when, like a number of German ébénistes, he moved to Paris where he was received as master founder in June 1785.

From his workshop in rue Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth he began specialising in the production of clock cases which especially thrived after the abolition of the guilds during the French Revolution. This meant that Reiche could now create every aspect of a clock case, employing a team of workmen from modellers, casters and chasers to marble workers. His renown immediately grew as a marchand-fabricant de bronzes and especially as a supplier to the Emperor. When he died on 18th March 1817, Jean-André Reiche left his business to his son Jean Reiche.


  • A same clock is on display at the François Duesberg Museum and reproduced in the book “Arts Decoratifs 1775-1825”, p. 44.

See more Empire Clocks in our gallery.

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