Very rare mythological Empire clock “The judgement of Paris”

Mythological Empire clock “The judgement of Paris”

This very rare and exquisitely chiseled Empire mantel clock “The judgement of Paris”, in gilt and patinated bronze, has a sumptuous rose gold case. The clock portrays the goddess Aphrodite sitting on top of the clockwork, while she holds a golden apple (the golden apple of discord) in her hand, and Eros standing beside her, holding his bow. Supporting the clockwork, we see a rock formation with a waterfall. The very rare rose gold case has an ornamentation of skillfully chiseled dolphins on either side. Further, it has a big bas-relief frieze in front which depicts the mythological story of the judgement of Paris.

The golden apple of discord was a golden apple dropped by Eris, the goddess of strife, at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis in the Greek myth of the judgement of Paris. It sparked a vanity-fueled dispute among Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite in which Paris had to be he judge of who of the three goddesses was the most beautiful one. The myth of the judgement of Paris has inspired many artists throughout the ages. One of the earliest known examples is a fresco made in Pompeii, A.D. 45–79 and found in the house of Jupiter at Pompeii (see last photo).

The clockwork has an enamel dial, carrying the signature “Verneuil Jeune à Paris”, indicating the hours in Roman numerals and the minutes in Arabic numerals. Tardy lists Verneuil Jeune as a clock maker who was active in Paris from 1806, initially in the rue du Contrat Social, later in the Faubourg St-Martin. The eight-days going movement has a wire suspension pendulum. Further, it has a twin-barrel movement with count wheel strike of the hours and half hours on a bell.

Details of this Empire clock “The judgement of Paris”

This Empire clock “The judgement of Paris” is in an exceptional state of preservation, retaining the original mercury gilding which partly consist of luxury rose gold, which is very rare. The clockwork is in perfect working condition and has recently been serviced by a professional clock maker. The clock comes complete with its pendulum, key and bell.

Origin: Paris, circa 1806.
Dimensions: 46 cm high, 39,5 cm wide and 15 cm deep.
Weight: 13,7 kg.

Mythology of the judgement of Paris

The Judgement of Paris is a story from Greek mythology, which was one of the events that led up to the Trojan War. It is recounted that Zeus held a banquet in celebration of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis (parents of Achilles). However, Eris, goddess of discord, was not invited. Angered by this offence, Eris arrived at the celebration with a golden apple with the inscription “For the fairest one”, which she threw on the floor as a prize of beauty.

Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. They asked Zeus to judge which of them was fairest, and eventually he, reluctant to favour any claim himself, declared that Paris, a Trojan mortal, would judge their cases, for he had recently shown his great fairness.

While Paris inspected them, each attempted with her powers to bribe him. Hera offered to make him king of Europe and Asia, Athena offered wisdom and skill in war, and Aphrodite offered the world’s most beautiful woman. This was Helen of Sparta, wife of the Greek king Menelaus. Paris accepted Aphrodite’s gift and awarded the apple to her, receiving Helen as well as the enmity of the Greeks and especially of Hera. The Greeks’ expedition to retrieve Helen from Paris in Troy is the mythological basis of the Trojan War.


  • Tardy, “Dictionnaire des horlogers français”, p. 640.

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