Fabulous Empire clock “The love letter” by François-Louis Savart

Empire mantel clock “The love letter” attributed to François-Louis Savart

A very fine decorative Empire gilt bronze mantel clock attributed to François-Louis Savart (1780-1828) after a model by the same bronzier. The design of this clock is kept at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Cabinet d’Estampes, and this design is signed “Mr. Savart fabrique de bronze rue Phelipaux no. 11” (see the last photo).

The especially finely worked details enhance the narrative portrayal of this beautiful Empire clock, whose design is often referred to as “The Love Letter”. It shows a young woman in classical dress sitting while looking down toward a carrier pigeon. The pigeon sits upon her knee and holds a note, probably a love letter,  she has just written to her love. The chair she sits on is a very luxurious model, typical for the Empire period, with griffins as armrests and more elaborately chiseled decorations elsewhere. The chair is comfortably padded with luxury cushions with tassels. To the right stands a tripod table with three winged monopodia supports. Each of these supports has a female bust and head and feet of a lion. On top of this table rest a book (possibly her diary) with a quill and ink pot.

Further, the bas-relief frieze below the dial shows the receiver to be a young shepherd. He receives the letter, held in the beak of the same carrier pigeon, while resting in an Arcadian landscape.  The theme of love repeats itself in the other decoration on the  clock with love related symbols like fire, arrows and Amor figures.  The tripod table,was inspired by designs of Napoleon’s chief architects Charles Percier (1764-1838) and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853).

Details of this Empire mantel clock attributed to François-Louis Savart

This ormolu clock has been professionally cleaned and is in an excellent state of preservation with magnificent mercury gilding. The movement with anchor escapement, wire suspension and outside count wheel strikes the hour and half hours on a bell. It has been serviced by a professional clock maker and is in perfect working condition and comes complete with pendulum, bell and key.

Paris, circa 1809.
Dimensions: 47 cm wide, 50 cm high and 18.5 cm deep.
Weight: 15.2 kg.

François-Louis Savart (1780-1828)

The bronzier François-Louis Savart was born on 6 June 1780 and he worked for most of his career in Paris. Savart produced a variety of luxury bronzes from candelabra to clocks. When he designed the original model for this clock, he was established at 11 rue Philippaux. After he died we was buried in the cemetery of Père Lachaise, where upon his grave is a portrait bust of him modeled by the sculptor Sylvestre-Joseph Brun.


  • H. Ottomeyer, P. Proschel et al., ” Vergoldete Bronzen – Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus“, Munich, 1986, Vol. I, p.376-377 fig 5.15.12.
  • Collection of Museo de Relojes in Jerez de la Frontera.
  • Elke Niehüser, “French Bronze Clocks”, p.219 #490.
  • Koller Auktionen, Zürich, 22 June 2006, where a version with a partly patinated case appeared in auction.

See more Empire Clocks in our gallery.

Secure paymentWorldwide shipping Professional packaging Transport insurance

You might also like...