Atkins is probably the partner of Brockbank and Atkins, who flourished from 1815-35 (M. Jourdain, Regency Furniture, London, rev. ed., 1965, p. 99, fig. 238).
This clock is closely related to the model executed by the ciseleur-doreur Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain for the ébéniste Pierre-Antoine Foullet of circa 1760-65, who subsequently marketed the model. The original design from Foullet's workshop is in the Bibliothèque Doucet, Paris. One of the earliest documented neo-classical designs, costing 341 livres, perhaps the earliest recorded was that supplied in around 1765 for the chambre du lit of the duc de Choiseul's hôtel, where it is depicted on the cover of the Choiseul golden box, painted by Louis Nicolas van Blarenberghe circa 1770. A related clock was acquired by the banker Robert Child for Osterley Park, Middlesex (Country Life, 11 december 1926, p.938, fig.1). Another after Foullet's design is in the Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon (H. Ottomeyer, P. Pröschel et al., Vergoldete Bronzen, Munich, 1986 vol. I, p. 162, figs 3.3.6 and 3.3.7), another is in the Bouvier Collection at the musée Carnavalet (Catalogue, no. 90) and further example with a movement by Henri Voisin is illustrated in Tardy, La Pendule Française, Paris 1969, vol. II, p. 241. Further comparable clocks were sold at Christie's London by the Marquess of Cholmondeley K.C.V.O., M.C., D.L.T., 12 April 1984, lot 36; anonymously, 8 December 1994, lot 505; and most recently, 5 July 2001, lot 161.
This clock was almost certainly acquired by either Robert, 1st Marquess of Westminster (1767-1845), or Richard, 2nd Marquess of Westminster (1795-1869), either for Grosvenor House, London or Eaton Hall, Cheshire. Following very much in the vanguard of George, Prince of Wales and his circle, the Westminsters were avaricious connoisseurs with Francophile leanings, who assembled one of the greatest collections of French furniture in England. Echoing Beckford, the Duke of Hamilton and George Watson Taylor, their collection reveals a particular taste for goût grec and Boulle furniture, including a pair of floral marquetry armoires, as well as pietra dura mounted furniture by Robert Home, including the clock-cabinet in the Gilbert Collection which had been bought at the Hamilton Palace (Anna Maria Massinelli, The Gilbert Collection: Hardstones, London, 2000, pp. 49-50).
Laurels festoon this 'altar' clock , which celebrates lyric poetry's triumph and is conceived as garniture for a Louis Seize writing-table (bureau plat). It is attended by a studious figure, who symbolises Urania, Muse of Astronomy and companion of the sun and poetry deity Apollo.