Fascinating Empire vase clock “Venus in her chariot” : model by Claude Galle

Empire Vase Clock With Venus In Her Chariot (Model By Claude Galle)

This refined and richly decorated French Empire vase clock, with Venus in her chariot, is a famous model by Claude Galle. In their book, Ottomeyer and Pröschel reference that a clock with the title “Venus Coquille” appears in Galle’s workshop inventory in 1815, after the death of Claude Galle.

The clock dates from the early Empire period and it is in the form of a patinated bronze vase. This Empire vase clock is surmounted by a gilt bronze figure of Venus sitting on a sea conch pulled by doves. On the side of the vase there are decorations of river masks, while a pair of dolphins support the vase. Finally, the base has a central ornamentation of Neptune’s head, flanked by sea horses.

On the white enameled dial with gilt bronze hands, appears the signature “Le Roy Hr de Madame”. This refers to Bazile Charles Le Roy (1765-1839) who was clockmaker to the Imperial family of emperor Napoleon. The original clockwork has a silk suspended pendulum.

Details of this Empire clock with Venus in her chariot

This museum quality Empire vase clock, with Venus on a sea shell, has been professionally cleaned and is in a perfect condition with beautiful gilding. The movement has a pendulum with silk suspension and anchor escapement. It strikes the hours and half hours on a bell, regulated by a count wheel. It comes complete with pendulum, bell and key.

France ca. 1810
Dimensions: 35 cm high, 31 cm wide and 12 cm deep.
Weight: 7.4 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 as clockmaker to Emperor Napoleon, to Madame Mère, Princess Pauline, Jérôme Bonaparte King of Westphalia and in 1829 as royal clockmaker to the dukes of Bourbon and of Chartres. His house exhibited clocks at the Paris Exposition l’an VI (1797/8) and again in 1819, 1823 and 1827.


  • Vergoldete Bronzen – die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Hans Ottomeyer/Peter Pröschel, p.371 fig. 5.13.17
  • Encyclopédie de la pendule française, Pierre Kjellberg, p.377 #B
  • French Bronze Clocks, Elke Niehüser, p.242 #939
  • Dictionnaire des horlogers français, Tardy, p.270

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