Empire mantel clock “The study of Astronomy” after design by Jean-André Reiche

Exquisite Empire clock “The study of Astronomy” after design by Jean-André Reiche

This Empire mantel clock “The Study of Astronomy”, after the drawing of Jean-André Reiche, represents Urania. The watercolor drawing of the design by André Reiche was deposited in 1806 at the Imperial Library. It is now  in the Cabinet des Estampes at the National Library. Urania, the female figure in antique dress, is a personification of astronomy. She works with the typical instruments, the drawing compass, the celestial globe and the books which are in a stack on the floor as a sign of study. The connection between astronomy and time measure is clear through the overall composition of the clock where stars are applied around the dial.   With the scientific progress made from the end of the 18th century comes the interest in models of pendulum clocks dealing with the subject of astronomy.

The case of this mantel clock carries a bas-relief of a putto who is playfully studying the stars. He seems very concentrated while looking through the telescope, a scroll in hand and seems to fly up to the stars. Set in this case we see the clockwork with a white enameled dial carrying the signature “Chopin à Paris”. Tardy lists Chopin as being active as a clockmaker in Paris from 1806. The case rests on a sea green marble plinth with four gilt bronze feet.

Details Of This Empire Clock “The study of Astronomy”

This Empire clock about the theme of astronomy has been made of  finely chiseled and gilded bronze and sea green marble. It’s movement has a white enameled dial which carries the signature “Chopin à Paris”. A pair of gilt bronze hands show the hours and minutes on the dial with Arab numerals. The eight-days going movement has a wire suspension pendulum. It has a twin-barrel movement with count wheel strike on a bell. Also it strikes the hour and half hour on it’s bell.

The clock is in a perfect working condition and in an excellent state of conservation with its original mercury gilding. Also, it has recently been cleaned and serviced by a professional clock maker. The clock comes complete with its pendulum, key and bell.

France, Empire period circa 1807.

Dimensions: 37 cm high, 31 cm wide and 11 cm deep.
Weight: 8.3 kg.

Jean-André Reiche (1752-1817)

The case is one of a number of designs 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 modelers, 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.


  • Pierre Kjellberg, “Encyclopédie de la pendule française”, p.396 #C
  • Elke Niehüser, “French Bronze Clocks”, p.91
  • H. Ottomeyer, P. Proschel et al., ” Vergoldete Bronzen – Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus“, Munich, 1986, Vol. I,  p.375 Fig. 5.15.5
  • Tardy, “Dictionnaire des horlogers français”, p.130

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