Exquisite Empire clock “Eros plucking his lyre” attributed to Claude Galle

Empire mantel clock “Eros plucking his lyre” attributed to Claude Galle (1759-1815)

Rare Empire mantel clock in gilt and patinated bronze with Eros leaning on a large lyre: a wonderful model by Claude Galle. The magnificently sculpted and carved sculpture of Eros and his lyre form the main focus of this museum quality clock. All the intricate details and the quality of making reveal the hand of a true master like Claude Galle. Eros stands on the base of the clock, one foot on a stool, his clothes sensually wrapped around his body. In front of him we see a big lyre which contains the movement. Eros plucks his lyre while he is gazing into the distance.

The clock has a quadrangular plinth in gilt and patinated bronze mounted with garlands, swans, butterflies and torches and resting on four ball feet with butterfly wings. At Eros’ feet we see a quiver and a torch; all of these are typical symbols of Eros. The arrows he shoots to make people fall in love and the fire that warms and ignites the heart.

In the center of the lyre we see the clockwork, it has a white enamel annular dial, signed Bailly à Paris, centered by an openwork rosette with palmettes and foliage. Tardy lists Bailly as clockmaker active in Rue Menars and  Rue Richelieu in 1810.

This model is also known entirely gilded or with variations in the arrangement of the patina. In his book “Les ouvriers du temps” Augarde shows a version of this clock signed by Claude Galle.  A clock of this model adorned the fireplace in the bedroom of la maréchale Ney d’Elchingen, princesse de la Moskowa in 1815.

Details of the Empire clock “Eros plucking his lyre”

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 dial carries the signature of Bailly à Paris. This Empire clock presents itself with it’s original mercury gilding in an excellent state of preservation. 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, Empire period circa 1810.
Dimensions: height 38 cm, width 30 cm, depth 16 cm.
Weight: 7.4 kg.


  • Jean-Dominique Augarde, Les ouvriers du temps, Geneva, 1996, p.154, fig. 120
  • Elke Niehüser, French Bronze Clocks,  p.96 fig. 151 & p.233 #753
  • Tardy, Dictionnaire des horlogers français, p.24
  • Dupont & Associés – Morlaix, 10 March 2020, for a version of this clock signed Claude Galle
  • Sotheby’s – New York, 23 May 2012
  • Christie’s – London, 13 december 2001

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