An elegant vase-shaped clock attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire
This elegant vase clock of great scenic effect, has on the top a nice foliate finely pierced domed cover surmounted by palm fronds and a pinecone finial, the circular bezel headed by a ribbon-tie with cascading floral swags and flanked by a pair of classic female slightly bent on themselves standing on plinths above lower scrolled handles, with a Mercury mask below the dial flanked by floral swags above a spreading circular wreath-banded foot placed upon a stepped square griotte marble base centred by an Apollo head mask above beaded and acanthus gilt-bronze bands, supported on four turned feet.
Considering the quality of the bronze, gilding and finishing, and its similarity to other clocks found in royal residences, noble houses and publications, as well as a careful examination by experts in the field of European decorative bronzes, we can attribute this splendid Medici vase clock belonging to the production of Pierre-Philippe Thomire.
Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751–1843), a French sculptor, was the most prominent bronzier of the First French Empire‘s ornamental patinated and gilt-bronze objects and furniture mounts.
His fashionable neoclassical and Empire style furnishing bronzes established the highest standard for that time. 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 shop in 1776.
He gradually assumed the leading position of his former master. In 1783–84 he received his first notable commission, casting and finishing the gilt-bronze handles modelled by Louis-Simon Boizot for a pair of Sèvres porcelain vases, today divided between the Musée du Louvre and Palazzo Pitti.
A significant number of the bronzes by Thomire had been commissioned for the Imperial residences. At the height of his business, Thomire employed six or seven hundred workers, and he retired from his firm in 1823.
This splendid Empire Clock looks back to the famous Sèvres porcelain model created by the sculptor Louis-Simon Boizet (1743-1809) with mounts supplied Pierre-Philippe Thomire, in the Louvre collection.
A similar clock was supplied to the Château de Fontainebleau on 23 August 1806 (JP Samoyault, Pendules et bronzes d’ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire, Paris 1989, cat. 47, p. 81), while two further examples are found at the Musée Francois-Duesberg in Mons, Belgium (P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule Francaise, Paris 1997, p. 327, fig. C).
The clock movement is created by Parisian clockmaker Sirost, who is recorded as working from rue Bertin-Poiré from at least 1806-10 and from rue des Fontaines in 1840.
The movement with anchor escapement, silk thread suspension, striking on the hour and half-hour on a single bell, with outside count wheel.
- G. Wannenes, “Le Più Belle Pendole Francesi. Da Luigi XIV all’Impero”, 1991, p. 160, illustrating a clock of the same model.
- Pierre Kjellberg, “Encyclopédie de la Pendule Française du Moyen Age au XXe Siècle”, 1997, p. 327, pl. C, illustrating two identical clock cases by Pierre-Philippe Thomire in the Musée François-Duesberg, Mons in Belgium, one dating from the Directoire period signed on the dial Folin l’Aîné à Paris, the other from the Empire period signed on the dial Devillaine à Paris.
- Elke Niehüser, “Die Französische Bronzeuhr”, 1997, p.264, pl. 1311, illustrating a clock of an identical model.