Splendid Mythological Empire Clock with Orpheus
Mythological Empire mantel clock with Orpheus
Early 19th century mercury gilt bronze mythological Empire clock with Orpheus charming the animals. This mythological Empire clock has finely chiseled details portraying the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice. The clock features Orpheus playing his lyre near a lion. He is seated on the clock casing where the Roman numerals mark the hours. The ensemble rests on a rectangular base decorated with a frieze representing Orpheus charming Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the entrance to Hades, saving his wife, Eurydice.
The movement is well preserved without modification. It has wire suspension and strikes the hours and half hours on a bell. The clockwork has been professionally cleaned and serviced and is in working condition. It comes complete with the bell, pendulum and key. Circa 1820.
Orpheus and Eurydice
In Greek mythology Orpheus was the son of King Oiagros of Thrace. Orpheus had inherited the gift of singing from his mother Calliope. Apollo gave him a lyre, and when Orpheus played his song, no one could resist its divine power. All the animals in nature, the trees and even the stones started moving.
Orpheus married the nymph Eurydice but their happiness was short-lived. Eurydice died tragically after being bitten by a viper. Orpheus was very sad and sang a lamentation, and then the wild animals surrounded him, and the trees stopped their rustling. Then Orpheus had a plan to take his wife back from the Underworld, the realm of the dead. The entrance to the Underworld was guarded by Cerberus, often referred to as the hound of Hades. Cerberus was a multi-headed dog that guards the gates of the Underworld to prevent the dead from leaving. He is usually described as having three heads, a serpent for a tail, and snakes protruding from multiple parts of his body.
The plan seems to work well when Orpheus is charming the guardians of the Underworld with his song. Finally they allow Eurydice to return with him to the land of the living. However, the condition is that Orpheus is not allowed to look at Eurydice before they leave the Underworld. When Orpheus looks back to see if Eurydice is following him, he breaks the condition and Eurydice has to remain in the Underworld.
The bas-relief on the clock depicts this scene when Orpheus enters the Underworld, charming the guardians with his song. In the middle we see the three-headed Cerberus and on the right Eurydice.
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