Pierre-Philippe Thomire: Important early Empire period mantel clock with Bacchus

Early Empire period mantel clock with Bacchus attributed to Thomire

This impressive museum quality mythological Empire mantel clock with Bacchus is attributed to top bronzier Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843). It dates from the very beginning of the 19th century, most likely the period of the French Consulat (1799-1804) or early Empire period. A clock of this same model is also in the collections of the Masséna Museum in Nice and the Mobilier National in Paris.

The gilt bronze Empire mantel clock depicts Bacchus and his thyrsus. It is clearly from the hands of a top bronzier like Pierre-Philippe Thomire. Bacchus is the Roman god of wine, who  is known to the Greeks under the name Dionysos. In Greek mythology he is also the father of theater and tragedy.  The god often holds a thyrsus in his hand, surrounded by vines and ivy and surmounted by a pine cone. This thyrsus can cause vines or ivy to spring up and it represents a symbol of prosperity and fertility. Other symbols that we usually associate with Bacchus are the panther, the donkey, the goat, the ivy, the vine and a bunch of grapes.

Bacchus sits on top of the case which contains the clockwork. In his hand Bacchus holds a lyre and on the ground we also see more musical instruments like a pan flute and a tambourine. Further, on either side of the clockwork case, we see a panther’s head and tail and an amhpora for the wine.  The clock rests on an oval base, resting on six spinning top feet with knurled decoration. On the facade the base is adorned with a richly decorated bas-relief representing a ‘Céres’ sitting on a chariot drawn by a pair of panthers led by a love.  They are accompanied by bacchantes dancing and playing music. Framing the bas-relief there are two vertical vines. The rounded ends of the base carry decorations of palmettes and flowers.

Details of this Empire mantel clock with Bacchus

The eight-days going movement has a wire suspension pendulum. It has a twin-barrel movement with count wheel strike on a bell. It strikes the hour and half hour on it’s bell. This Empire clock with Bacchus, attributed to Thomire, is in an exceptional and perfect working condition. Also, it has recently been cleaned and serviced by a professional clock maker. The clock comes complete with its pendulum, key and bell.

France, Consulate or early Empire period circa 1805.

Dimensions: 57 cm high, 44 cm wide and 16 cm deep.
Weight: 16.8 kg.


  • French Bronze Clocks, Elke Niehüser, p.221 #511
  • Collection Mobilier National, Paris, inventory number GML-4591-000

See more Empire Clocks in our gallery.

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