Lot No. 440 (91st Auction)
A collection of two ornamental ormolu pendulum clocks - Claude Galle, Rue Vivienne à Paris / Thomas, Horloger, Height 450 mm, circa 1810

An important French ormolu empire ornamental pendulum clock with half hour strike, "Cupid the Honey Thief"
Case: ormolu, Venus sitting on the clock with her son Cupid to her right; Cupid has been stung by a bee and and seeks his mother’s comfort. The scene is flanked by a beehive on the left and a pair of doves on the right. Rectangular polished and gilded bronze base on four claw feet. Central frosted relief: Cupid plucking a rose. The relief is flanked by two applied rosebushes. Dial: enamel, glazed, radial Roman hours, signed, blued Breguet hands, very finely engine-turned bezel. Movm.: circular brass full plate movement, 1 hammer / 1 bell, 2 barrels, keywind, count wheel, silk suspended short pendulum.

Cupid the Honey Thief
The scene shows Cupid, who has a sweet tooth and has been trying to steal some honey. He was stung by a bee and seeks solace and comfort from his mother Venus. However, Venus admonishes her son and reminds him how often he delivers painful stings with his arrows.
The Idylls of Theocritus already mention the honey thief motif and it has been used frequently in different fields of art for many centuries.
The relief on the base was created after the scene "Armat spina rosas, mella tegunt apes" ("No rose without thorns") in the "Amorum emblemata", by Otto Vaenius (1556-1629).

Claude Galle (1758-1815)
Galle was a renowned bronzier during the reign of Louis XVI and was first established at Rue du Four before moving to Rue Vivienne. During the early 19th century, he supplied works to many French and Italian palaces, including Tuileries, Fontainebleau and the Grand and Petit Trianons at Versailles.
Source: "Designs for Gilt Bronze Objects from the French Restoration 1814-1830" by C. Plante and R. Garnier, London, 2002, pp. 25-26.

A nearly identical clock is described and illustrated in "Die Französische Bronzeuhr" by Elke Niehüser, Munich 1997, pp. 99, 100.

Hilaire Bassereau, Palais Royal, Paris, Height 460 mm, circa 1810

A fine French Empire ormolu mantel clock with half hour strike, "Leda and the Swan"
Case: ormolu, showing Leda and the swan: Leda sits on the clock movement and holds Zeus disguised as a swan in her lap. Polished ormolu base and thimble-shaped feet, applied foliate scrolls, sphinges and a lion's mask in the centre. The sides with thunderbolts and eagles. Dial: enamel, radial Roman hours, signed, pierced, engraved, gilt hands. Movm.: circular brass full plate movement, 1 hammer / 1 bell, 2 barrels, keywind, count wheel, silk suspended short pendulum.

Jean-Hilaire Bassereau (1743-1810)
He was Horloger de l'Empereur et Roy, a fine Parisian maker, student of Lepine. He died in 1810.
Bassereau was an extremely versatile maker, who created many luxurious pieces such as carillon watches or singing bird watches; on the other hand he also produced watches that were well-made but quite simple in design. One of his precision timekeepers for example is a chronometer with pivoted detent escapement held by the British Museum. For a time Bassereau's business was located in the Rue Vivienne, where it was continued by his son. It later moved to the Rue Neuve des Petits Champs. Upon his death in 1810 Bassereau's widow took over the business and it was registered under her name until 1840; then it was sold to Henri Dautreme. Dautreme continued trading at the Neuve des Petits Champs location until 1890.
Source: "Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World", by G.H. Baillie Vol. I, Edinburgh/London, 1947, p. 18.

"Leda and the Swan"
In Greek mythology, Leda was daughter of the Aetolian king Thestius, and wife of king Tyndareus of Sparta.
Leda was admired by Zeus, who seduced her in the guise of a swan. As a swan, Zeus fell into her arms for protection from a pursuing eagle. Their consummation, on the same night as Leda lay with her husband Tyndareus, resulted in two eggs from which hatched Helen (later known as the beautiful "Helen of Troy"), Clytemnestra, and Castor and Pollux. Which children are the progeny of Tyndareus the mortal king, and which are of Zeus and thus half-immortal, is not consistent among accounts, nor is which child hatched from which egg.
Source:, as of 01/28/2015.
Estimate  4,500 - 6,000 €
This is a lot of a former auction!

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