Large French Empire period ormolu mantel clock by Piolaine

By Piolaine, Michel-François (French, active from 1787)


This magnificent ormolu clock was crafted by Michel-François Piolaine, one of the foremost Parisian clock-makers of the late 18th and early 19th Century.


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This Neoclassical style, Empire period mantel clock is exceptionally large in its scale. The piece stands on a rectangular base, which is set on four block feet. The clock body features a central rectangular panel, which is heavily decorated with relief work, depicting a fruit basket, surrounded by scrolling acanthus leaves and stylised palmette motifs. At the centre of the clock, there is a circular white enamel dial with black Arabic Numbers, which is signed ‘Piolaine/ A Paris’. The sides of the clock body are similarly ornamented with scrolling foliage and stylised palmettes. Four classical columns, with foliate bases, banding and capitals, stand on the corners of the clock body.  

The clock case is topped by a frieze, which is decorated with a central rosette, scrolling palmette relief patterns, and symmetrical foliate motifs. This frieze is surmounted by a band of repeated stylised leaf forms, which is topped by four pinecone finials. The centre of the case is surmounted by a domed lid, which is ornamented with scrolling foliage, rosettes and bands of laurel leaves. The lid is crowned by a large ball-shaped pinecone finial.  

This mantel clock was crafted by Michel-François Piolaine who was active in Paris from 1787, when he became a master clockmaker. He worked in the Rue des Ecrivains in 1789, and from 1798 until 1810 in the Rue des Gravilliers. Clocks made by Piolaine are displayed in the François Duesberg Museum in Mons, the British Royal Collection in Windsor Castle, and were formerly in the Berlin Schlossmuseum.


Artist / Maker
By Piolaine, Michel-François (French, active from 1787)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Early 19th Century
Early 19th Century
Empire, Napoleonic, Neoclassical
Enamel, Ormolu (Gilt Bronze)
Gold, White


82 cm / 32.3 inches
47 cm / 18.5 inches
36 cm / 14.2 inches


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