List Price £9,500
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This large and impressive Charles X period mantel clock is crafted from ormolu (gilt bronze) and malachite—the malachite being a later, beneficial veneer. As with most mantel clocks of this period, the clock case is both whimsical and elaborate in form: in this instance, the case is dominated by a large ormolu sculptural group of a classical figure atop a rearing horse.
The clock features a rectangular malachite base, raised by a stepped ormolu plinth set above four rectangular feet. The malachite base is topped by the large ormolu sculptural group, the form of which incorporates the clock drum—the rearing horse rises above the tree-stump-form drum, which contains a white enamel dial inscribed with Roman numeral hour marks. The female figure most likely represents Pallas Athena—one of whose godly dominions was prudent warfare. Athena sits atop her horse, her right hand raised above her head holding an axe. Her figure is intricately and naturalistically cast and wonderfully gilt, as is the figure of her steed.
The horse, in posture and countenance, evinces great strain; the depiction of horse’s under strain was a popular subject in early 19th Century French art, as demonstrated by Gericault’s many paintings of the subject. The root source of this motif is undoubtedly the Parthenon Marbles, which were brought to the UK from Athens in the early years of the century and proved immensely influential in European art of the following decades. The resemblance between the current horse and the famous horse’s head from the Parthenon marbles is uncanny.
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