Founded in 1712, the Tula Arms Factory became the centre of Russian Arms production. Following the peaceful resolution of the protracted war with Sweden, however, during the second quarter of the 18th Century the factory became increasingly renowned for the production of richly decorated ornamental Tulaware in characteristic cut and polished steel, often with contrasting blued-steel embellishments. Extensively patronised by Catherine II and often presented as gifts to visiting dignitaries, the Tula factory supplied several ornamental objects and furniture to the Palace of Pavlosk.
After three years of war with Napoléon, Tula received unambiguous orders from the Ministry of War in St. Petersburg in 1808 to cease all activities save the production of arms, and this embargo was not lifted until 1824. It is, therefore, extremely interesting that the design of this clock corresponds so closely with that of a Charles X ormolu mantel clock with movement signed Peron à Besanon (1778-1835), which is illustrated in Tardy, La Pendule Franaise du Louis XIV à nos jours, vol. II, Paris, p. 443.
Flower-engraved and jewelled with diamond-cut heads, this polished-steel Tula mantel clock is conceived in the early 19th Century French/Grecian manner illustrated in C. Percier and P. Fontaine's Recueil de Décorations Intérieures, Paris, 1801. Its face and pendulum, framed by foliated sun-rays, are hung in a plinth-supported and Doric-columned triumphal arch, whilst Apollo-lyres surmount its pendulum as well as its stepped cornice, where it is supported by Venus' shell and Bacchic lions. A candlestick, similarly decorated in blued and facetted-steel and bearing the signature of the Master- worker Alexey Bogolepov, is preserved in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg (M. Malchenko, Art and Objects in Steel by Tula Craftsmen, Leningrad, 1974, fig. 99).