On his death in 1903 after a career spanning some fifty years, the prominent French sculptor, Frédéric-Eugène Piat, left a considerable body of work, principally designs and models for a vast array of clocks, appliques, lamps, candelabra and torchères. Subsequently, the designs were executed by many of the most reputable firms of Parisian bronziers, among them Christofle, Colin, Lemerle-Charpentier, Motteau and, as seen here, Maison Millet, who exhibited the completed works at their respective stands at the major international exhibitions. The firm of Colin & Cie exhibited a similar bronze and marble horloge at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago (see Y. Devaux, L'Univers des Bronzes, Paris, 1978, p. 267). In 1894, Piat gave considerable funds towards the inauguration of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in his native Troyes. Included in his gift, and to be displayed in a specially decorated salon on the museum's ground floor, were at least twenty of his creations. Among these was an example of the present clock, described as a "grande horloge Louis XVI, genre de La Fosse, bronze doré, deux tons et bronze vert" (see Champier, p. 27, and engraving).
Established by Théodore Millet in 1853, Maison Millet operated until 1902 from premises at 11, rue Jacques-Coeur, Paris, before relocating to 23, boulevard Beaumarchais. Specialising in 'meubles et bronzes d'art, genre ancien et moderne', the firm received accolades, including a Médaille d'or at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle and a Grand Prix at the 1900 exhibition. Although trading did not finally cease until 1918, after Millet's death in 1905, a series of four sales, each of them lasting several days, was held at Drouot to dispose of the company's large stock.
An identical example of the present horologe was sold Christie's New York, 23 October 2003, Lot 190. Another model, executed entirely in bronze by Charpentier-Lemerle, was sold Sotheby's New York, Property of the Burbridge Foundation Collection, September 12, 1996, lot 453.