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Monumental Empire clock “Allegory of Study” attributed to Ledure

Empire clock “Allegory of study” attributed to Ledure

This Empire clock about the allegory of study, attributed to Pierre-Victor Ledure (1783-1870), shows the personification of Study or Science. She wears a dress in the antique tradition and leans against a pile of books holding a scroll in her hand. On the spines of these books we can read the inscriptions “ASTRO/TOM.1” and “PHYSIQ/TOM.3”. Also, the rooster and torches are symbols of the intellectual and physical alertness which are important prerequisites of studying and science.

Further, the bas-relief of this allegorical Empire clock symbolizes the Arts and Sciences. We see a large winged Genius holding a scroll inscribed “Traité de la sphère” in his hand, referring to astronomical studies. He is surrounded by various attributes of the seven liberal arts (painting, architecture, sculpture and poetry). A bust of the goddess of wisdom Athena and her attribute, the owl are further reference to the main motive of the bronze clock, the study.

The enameled dial of the clockwork carries the signature “Le Roy horloger du Roi / à Paris” and the magnificent case is attributed to the famous bronzier Pierre-Victor Ledure. The clock is mentioned in Ottomeyer and other identical or near identical versions can be found in Palais Viana in Madrid, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and at Schlösserverwaltung, Munich.

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

This museum quality Empire clock has been professionally cleaned and is in a perfect condition with beautiful mercury gilding. The movement has a 8-day going train, striking train and central date indication. And the back plate is stamped “P / No. 416”. The white enameled dial, signed “Le Roy horloger du Roi, à Paris“ 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 has been checked by a professional clock maker. It comes complete with pendulum, bell and key.

France ca. 1815
Dimensions: 55 cm high, 34 cm wide and 13 cm deep.
Weight: 12.0 kg.

Pierre-Victor Ledure (1783-1870)

Ledure, born in Paris in 1783, was the son of Laurent Ledure and Marie-Marguérite née Lainé who died when he was only five in 1788, shortly before the French Revolution. Ledure was apprentice under the renowned bronzier, André-Antoine Ravrio (1759-1814). He received many important commissions during the Empire period, enjoying the patronage from a wealthy international clientele. Today one can find examples of his work in many important private and public collections including the Museo de Reloges at Jerez de la Frontera, the Palais Vienna in Madrid, the Royal Pavilion at Brighton and also the British Embassy in Paris.

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 clock maker 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 clock makers 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 clock maker to Emperor Napoleon, to Madame Mère, Princess Pauline, Jérôme Bonaparte King of Westphalia and in 1829 as royal clock maker 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.

Literature

  • H. Ottomeyer, P. Proschel et al., ” Vergoldete Bronzen – Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus“, Munich, 1986, Vol. I, p.349, fig. 5.6.8.
  • Elke Niehüser, “French Bronze Clocks”, 1997, p.76-77.
  • Tardy, Dictionnaire des horlogers français, p. 406-407.
  • Collection of the Mobilier National, inv. number GML-3974-000.
  • Collection of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, object number BK-1997-16.
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