Unique allegorical Empire clock “Allegory of Astronomy”

Empire clock “Allegory of Astronomy”

Empire mantel clock in mercury gilded bronze, depicting the allegory of astronomy. The scene represents Urania, the Muse of astronomy reading in a library dedicated to science. The design drawing of this clock is in the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris (see last photo). We see Urania standing on the right, barefoot and wearing a Joséphine de Beauharnais dress and crowned with stars. She reads a book while she leans with her right arm on a library which forms the middle part of the clock. This library contains books and is further decorated with a bust of Homer and griffins to the side. It contains the clockwork with white enamel dial and blued steel hands. Further, the library is surmounted by books and scientific instruments such as a compass, a protractor and also a crown symbolizing knowledge. On the left there is a column with a guilloche pattern and surmounted by an armillary sphere, used for modeling the celestial sphere.

The rectangular base has a large bas relief adorned with an architectural decoration of columns of the Doric order, where six columns stand on either side of an Athenian fire pot. Waves of garlands escape on two levels of the colonnades, decorated by flowers, musical instruments and a musical score.

This Empire clock with its many decorations, superbly detailed sculpture and its original mercury gilding, is in a very good condition.

Details of this allegorical Empire clock “Allegory of Astronomy”

This Empire clock has been professionally cleaned and is in a perfect condition. The white enameled dial shows Roman numerals for the hours and stripes for the minutes. 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. 1810.
Dimensions: 41 cm high, 31.5 cm wide and 13 cm deep.
Weight: 6 kg.


  • Elke Niehüser, “French Bronze Clocks”, 1997, p.234 #775.
  • Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, CD 4286.48.

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