Stunning Empire mantel clock “Tekmessa and Eurysakes” signed Claude Galle

Empire mantel clock “Tekmessa and Eurysakes” signed Claude Galle

This mythological Empire clock in gilded and chiseled bronze, signed Claude Galle, represents Eurysakes , son of Ajax, looking at his mother Tekmessa, who shows him his father’s shield. The white enameled dial is signed “Galle à Paris” , referring to Claude Galle (1759-1815) who is regarded as one of the best bronziers of the late Louis XVI and Empire periods. The fine bronze case is mercury gilded and partially dark patinated and extremely finely chased, clearly the work of a great master.

In Greek mythology, Eurysakes was named after his father’s famous shield, which Ajax handed to his young son before committing suicide. Here we see Tekmessa sitting on a luxury cushioned seat which rests on four claw feet, while Eurysakes stands by her side. Tekmessa’s seat stands on top of a case containing the clockwork with an enameled dial with Roman numerals for the hours and Arabic numerals for the minutes and signed “Galle à Paris”. Further, on each side there is an elephant’s head drinking water from a basin. The whole scene rests on a rectangular base with front decorations of oak leave wreaths  and a central bas-relief enclosed in a plaque in dark patinated bronze. This bas-relief shows two soldiers involved in a fight, maybe it refers to one of duels between Ajax and Hector. Finally, a helmeted soldier face on a shield ending in ram’s heads adorns each side of the base.

All applied decoration on the base of this Empire clock are references to soldiers and war: elephants were used during the war since Alexander the Great, they also may refer to Ajax who was considered big and inflexible.

Details of the mantel clock “Tekmessa and Eurysakes” signed Galle

This Empire clock presents itself with it’s original mercury gilding in an excellent state of preservation. The movement with anchor escapement and silk thread suspension strikes the hour and half hours on a bell.  It has a white enamel dial with Roman numerals and blued-steel Breguet style hands for the hours and minutes. The 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.

Paris, circa 1800-1805.
Dimensions: height 50 cm, width 37 cm, depth 13 cm.
Weight: 12,5 kg.

Mythology of Ajax, Tekmessa and Eurysakes

Ajax was a Greek mythological hero who played an important role in the Trojan War. When the war was over, Ajax claimed the arms from the most feared Trojan king’s son, the slain Achilles. However, a consultation among the Greek generals ‘disinherits’ Ajax from what he thought he was entitled to: Achilles’ weapons are acknowledged to Odysseus. In a drunken stupor, Ajax begins to hate his fellow generals even more than the divided opponents of the Trojan War. He seeks their nocturnal death, but the goddess Athena strikes him with blindness so that instead of his opponents, Ajax kills a herd of captured sheep and their shepherds. Awakened from his blindness, he looks like a fool. Ajax’s anger now turns on himself: to escape the ridicule of his surroundings he throws himself upon his own sword.

Eurysakes in Greek mythology was the son of the Ajax and Tekmessa, a captured princess forced into slavery. Eurysakes was named after his father’s famous shield. In Sophocles’ tragedy “Ajax”, the protagonist hands the shield to his young son before committing suicide. Eurysakes was then taken to Ajax’s native land, Salamis Island, and he soon became king there.

Claude Galle (1759-1815)

Claude Galle is regarded as one of the best bronziers of the late Louis XVI and Empire periods. He was born at Villepreux near Versailles. Galle was the apprentice of Pierre Foyin in Paris whose daughter he married in 1784. He became master bronze caster in 1786. After the death of his father-in-law in 1788 Galle took over his workshop. He soon turned it into one of the best bronze workshops in Paris and finally he employed around four hundred craftsmen. He moved to Quai de la Monnaie (later Quai de l’Unité), and then in 1805 to 9 Rue Vivienne.

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