Imposing Empire clock “Return of Odysseus” attributed to Thomire
Empire clock “Return of Odysseus” attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire
Exceedingly rare Empire mantel clock attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843) on the theme of Odysseus’ return to Ithaca. This fascinating Empire clock in chased and gilded bronze, shows us a powerful and skillfully chiseled sculpture of the helmeted warrior Odysseus pushing a boulder. This scene depicts the imprisonment of Odysseus and his men in the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus. He has locked them up by placing a large boulder in front of the entrance. This boulder is so big that it is impossible to move. By a ruse Odysseus and his men still manage to escape.
The clockwork is inscribed in this boulder and the white enamel dial carries the signature “Armingaud L’ainé a Paris”. Tardy lists Armingaud as clock maker active from 1806-1813 in the Rue Meslay and the Boulevard de la Porte St-Martin in Paris.
An ornate plinth of sea green marble, resting on four claw feet, supports the above scene. In front it has a magnificently detailed bas-relief frieze illustrating an episode of the Odyssey. It represents Odysseus, dressed like an old beggar after his return home, having his feet washed by his most faithful servant Eurycleia. She was the only person to recognize him after he returned home from the Trojan War. After he entered his own house disguised as a beggar, Eurycleia bathed him and recognized him by a scar just above his knee, which he got from a boar while boar hunting. Gripping her by the throat, Odysseus stopped her from telling his wife Penelope or anyone else in the house of his true identity.
Details Of The Empire Clock “Return of Odysseus”
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 “Armingaud L’ainé à Paris”. This wonderful 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 1806.
Dimensions: height 43 cm, width 33 cm, depth 13 cm.
Weight: 14.4 kg.
Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843)
Pierre-Philippe Thomire was a French sculptor, who became the most prominent producer of ornamental patinated and gilt-bronze objects and furniture mounts in the First French Empire period. Although trained as a sculptor, Thomire decided to follow his father into the profession of bronze caster. He had received his training in the workshop of Pierre Gouthière, the outstanding Parisian ciseleur-doreur working in the Louis XVI style, before establishing his own shop in 1776.
In 1804 Thomire acquired the business of the marchand-mercier, Martin-Eloi Lignereux. The company employed a large workforce in a workshop at rue Boucherat and a showroom at rue Taitbout. From there Thomire retailed a large range of decorative objects inspired by antiquity including candelabra, extravagant centrepieces, clock cases and monumental Greek and Roman style urns and vases. Thomire collaborated with three partners, renaming the business for a time Thomire, Duterme et Cie.
Thomire became the leading Parisian gilt metal manufacturer and gilder of the early nineteenth century. He supplied finely chased mounts to leading Parisian ébénistes for furniture, clock cases and mounts for the Sèvres porcelain factory. He was much patronised by Napoleon who made him Ciseleur de l’Empereur in 1809. Because of the large number of pieces Thomire supplied to the palaces, his firm became fournisseur de leurs majestés (Furniture Suppliers to their Majesties) two years later.His work represents some of the finest examples of the Empire design.
At the height of his business, it is estimated that Thomire employed six or seven hundred workers. Thomire retired from his firm in 1823.
- Tardy, Dictionnaire des horlogers français, p.13
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