Enchanting Empire mantel clock “Mother nursing child” by Bazile-Charles Le Roy

Empire Clock Signed Bazile-Charles Le Roy “Mother Nursing Child”

This refined and richly decorated French Empire mantel clock carries the signature “Le Roy, hger. de S.A.J. Madame“, which refers to the position of Bazile-Charles Le Roy as clockmaker to Emperor Napoleon’s family. The clock shows the intimate relationship between a mother and her baby, whom she is nursing in a very elegant setting. Both are sitting on a precious day bed, similar to the ones made by an important furniture maker, such as Jacob or Molitor, for the Emperor’s family. Golden sphinxes carry the antique style day bed, on which two pillows add comfort.

The artist skillfully conveys material and softness of the pillows.  And the exceptional quality of the bronze, as well as the choice of furniture, point at a genre scene with an important person at its center. The above scene is set on a rectangular base with a very detailed base relief  that shows shows children playing with their toys.  It is supported by hoof feet above a rectangular vert-de-mer marble base on toupee feet.

The most unusual three tier case is surmounted by the main subject of the clock, that is a woman in classical dress suckling her baby while sitting upon the most luxurious and expensive day bed with ormolu griffin supports and elaborate cushions with tassels. Below this is a gilt bronze base with applied cast ormolu mounts to the front depicting children playing horn and tambourine within a field and surrounded by toys. There are also ormolu mounts of goats to the side of the case. This base stands on ormolu paw feet above a further antique vert marble base standing upon fine ormolu toupee feet. This marble base has a ormolu dish inset for the pendulum and ormolu mouldings to the edge.

 This clock was almost certainly made in 1811 and I believe may have been commissioned to celebrate the birth to Empress Louise of Napoleon’s son, the Future King of Rome in 1811.

This museum quality Empire clock has been professionally cleaned and is in a perfect condition with beautiful gilding. The movement has a 8-day going train, striking train and central date indication. And the backplate is stamped “P / No. 416”. The white enameled dial, signed “Le Roy, hger. de S.A.J. Madame“ shows Roman numerals for the hours and stripes for the minutes. Further, the outer ring indicates the date (1-30) in Arabic numerals. The original clockwork has a silk suspended pendulum and anchor escapement. It strikes the hours and half hours on a bell, regulated by a count wheel. The clockwork is in perfect working condition and comes complete with pendulum, bell and key.

Details of this Empire mantel clock signed Bazile-Charles Le Roy

France ca. 1811

Dimensions: 45 cm high, 39 cm wide and 14.5 cm deep.
Weight: 17.4 kg.

Bazile-Charles Le Roy (1765-1839)

The clock movement was made by the esteemed maker Bazile-Charles Le Roy (1765-1839). He was the son of the clockmaker Bazile Le Roy (1731-1804). Bazile-Charles founded the House of Le Roy at 60 Galerie de Pierre, Palais-Royal shortly after 1785 when the duc d’Orléans (Philippe Egalité) opened up the Palais-Royal gardens to the public and the buildings to the trade. This enabled Le Roy and a number of other clockmakers to set up shop in the arcade galleries. During the Revolution he worked for the Republic signing his clocks ‘Elyor’. Afterwards he moved the business to Galerie Montpensier, 13-15 Palais-Royal, where the concern was to remain for almost a hundred years.

The following years saw his appointment a clockmaker to Emperor Napoleon, to Madame Mère, Princess Pauline, Jérôme Bonaparte King of Westphalia and in 1829 as royal clockmaker to the ducs de Bourbon and de Chartres. His house exhibited clocks at the Paris Exposition l’an VI (1797/8) and again in 1819, 1823 and 1827.


  • Encyclopédie de la pendule française, Pierre Kjellberg, p.390 #C
  • French Bronze Clocks, Elke Niehüser, p.178 #288
  • Dictionnaire des horlogers français, Tardy, p.406-407

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