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4: The Corner Drawing-Room

Apollo’s Chariot mantel clock

Late 1790s

Workshop of Pierre-Philippe Thomire

Paris, France

This mantel clock was created in the workshop of the celebrated French bronze-smith Pierre-Philippe Thomire in the late 1790s from a drawing by Jean Demosthene Dugourc. Napoleon's triumphant entry into Paris after victories in battles found reflection in a new design of clock in the form of ancient chariots containing figures of deities with the clock face in the wheel. A light two-wheeled chariot drawn by four horses carries the sun-god Apollo standing within across the high arc of the heavens surrounded by clouds. The base of the clock is made of red Italian marble.

Depictions of the sun-god Apollo had been traditional since the time of Louis XIV and the symbol was taken up in the Empire style. But the movement of the sun is also the course of time. This clock was purchased together with other works by Thomire on the instructions of Paul I for the furnishing of the Mikhailovsky Castle. It adorned a drawing-room in the inner apartments of Empress Maria Fiodorovna.


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