• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7608

    Important European Furniture and Sculpture

    10 July 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 135

    AN EMPIRE ORMOLU, PATINATED BRONZE AND VERDE ANTICO MARBLE MANTEL CLOCK

    BY CLAUDE GALLE, EARLY 19TH CENTURY

    Price Realised  

    AN EMPIRE ORMOLU, PATINATED BRONZE AND VERDE ANTICO MARBLE MANTEL CLOCK
    BY CLAUDE GALLE, EARLY 19TH CENTURY
    The white enameled circular rotating dial with Roman numerals with plain ormolu centre disc signed 'Galle a Paris' within an arched rectangular case decorated in relief with flaming torches and partially obscured by a classically draped maiden holding aloft a veil, above a rectangular stepped plinth, the moulded edge cast with foliage and anthemion, on winged paw feet, the movement wound from the rear, with silk suspension and countwheel strike on bell
    29 in. (74 cm.) high; 17 in. (43 cm.) wide; 11 in. (28 cm.) deep


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    Claude Galle (d.1815) was amongst the greatest bronziers and fondeur-ciseleurs of the late Louis XVI and Empire periods. First patronised by the Garde meuble de la Couronne under Jean d'Heure from 1786-1788, he is known to have collaborated with Pierre-Philipe Thomire, amongst others, and was responsible for much of the bronzes d'ameublement supplied during the Empire period to Fontainebleau.

    Galle's star piece at the 1806 Great Exhibition in Paris was 'la corbeille de marriage de la Princesse Catherine de Wurthemberg', however, as the accounts of the jury further report that was not all: 'Galle a surtout produit des pendules du plus beau style. It is well possible that one of these might have been the mantel clock that a further juror described as "modelled with a female figure draping the dial leaving the only the current hour visible"; and which ended winning a silver medal.
    Two related models are illustretd in H. Ottomeyer, P. Pröschel et al., Vergoldete Bronzen, vol. I, Munich, 1986, pp.368-69, figs.5.13.9 and 5.13.12, however, both models are of much smaller proportions and the only known related clock - apparently also bearing Galle's signature - appears to be at the Musée Marmottan, Paris.

    An engraving of the same model showing it as having been presented at the 1819 Paris exhibition shows how Claude Galle's son Gérard-Jean kept producing his father's successful models even years following his death.

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