The French-fashioned 'bronze' clock is conceived as part of a mantelpiece garniture formed as an urn-capped altar dedicated to ancient sun-deities. It reflects the taste promoted by the architect Charles Heathcote Tatham's studies of Roman 'furniture' antiquities that resulted in his Etchings of Ancient Ornamental Architecture, 1799, and Designs for Ornamental Plate, 1806. Here a Graeco-Roman sphinx squats on a stepped plinth that is enriched with alligator bas-reliefs, while guarding the clock-face, which is incorporated in a spherical-drum urn with Egyptian-lioness handles. Festive dionysiac/bacchic masks embellish the hollowed sides of its altar-tripod, whose reed-enriched pilasters terminate in the palm-flowered paws of a mythical griffin, sacred to the sun and poetry deity Apollo.
Around 1800 Tatham had assisted in the creation of the connoisseur Thomas Hope's Duchess Street Mansion/Museum, which popularised Egyptian taste, and also the fashion for related bronze 'furniture', such as his theatrical-masked Grecian urn crafted by the French bronze-founder A. Decaix (published in T. Hope, Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, 1807, pls. 34-37). The clock, which no doubt would have accompanied 'cassolette' urns concealing colza oil-lamps, can be attributed to the Liverpool sculptor William Bullock (d. c. 1840)., whose 1805 trade-sheet featured pyramids and advertised his establishment in Church Street as, 'W. Bullock, Jeweller, Silversmith and China Man, as the Museum and Bronze Figure Manufactory'. His Grecian-black basalt ware, and the clock's altar plinth derives from a pattern invented in 1805, when it was registered according to the 1798 Garrard Act 'for encouraging the art of making new models' (see T. Clifford, 'William Bullock - a fine fellow', Christie's International Magazine, July 1991, pp.14-15)