Very Rare Mythological Empire Clock “Mercury in an Allegory of Commerce”
Mythological Empire Clock “Mercury in an Allegory of Commerce”
This very rare gilt bronze mythological Empire clock of museum quality shows Mercury in an allegory of commerce. Mercury is the mythological god of commerce, messages and travelers. Because of his winged staff, winged helmet and winged sandals (caduceus, petasus and talaria) we can recognize him here. The sculpture of Mercury is very refined and lifelike. And it is relatively large since it comprises more than two thirds of the size of the clock.
A large bale of cotton serves as housing for the clockwork with white enameled dial and Roman numerals. Mercury leans over the merchandise and holds a purse in his right hand. Further, in his left hand he holds his staff. On the left side of the bale, an anchor, a rudder and a barrel represent trade and shipping. On the front of the plinth we see a relief with putti involved in various aspects of trade. For instance we see people loading a ship and weighing the cargo while everything is neatly recorded. Finally, on the truncated corners there are small decorations of scales and tools for writing.
This type of Empire clock with an allegory on trade and shipping was very popular during the French Empire 1805-1815. Consequently they were made to the taste of their future owners and there are several known versions. For example, a very similar specimen, with a negro slave instead of Mercury, appears in the book “Vergoldete Bronzen”. That mantel clock “au bon sauvage” was made by Michel in Paris in 1808. We can derive this fact from a drawing of that date from the Bibliothèque National.
This interesting and very rare mythological Empire clock “Mercury in an Allegory of Commerce” is a real collector’s item. It is a beautiful clock of high manufacturing quality with superb mercury gilding.
The eight-days going movement has a wire suspension pendulum. It strikes the hour and half hour on a bell. The clockwork is in a very good working condition. And it has recently been cleaned and serviced by a professional clock maker. The clock comes complete with its pendulum, key and bell.
Dimensions: 39 cm high, 31 cm wide, 11 cm deep.
Weight: 6.4 kg.
- Hans Ottomeyer & Peter Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, München 1986, p. 381
- Elke Niehüser, French Bronze Clocks, p. 142-143 and p. 236 #822
- Encyclopédie de la pendule française, Pierre Kjellberg, p. 343