On his death in 1903 after a career spanning some fifty years, the prominent French sculpteur-ornemaniste, Frédéric-Eugène Piat, left a considerable body of work, principally designs and models for a vast array of clocks, appliques, lampes, candelabras and torchères. Such designs were executed by many of the most reputable firms of Parisian bronziers, among them Christofle, Colin, Lemerle-Charpentier, Motteau and perhaps most notably, as here, Maison Millet. As an artiste collaborateur with these firms, many of Piat's creations, including in all probability this extravagant and monumental pedestal clock, were shown on their respective stands at the major international exhibitions of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (see Y. Devaux, L'Univers des Bronzes, Paris, 1978, p. 267, for another marble and bronze horloge, with similar full-length scantily-clad figure, executed by Colin & Cie and shown at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago). 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. Most important among these was an example of the present clock, described as a "grande horloge Louis XVI, genre de La Fosse, bronze doré à deux tons et bronze vert" (see Champier, p. 27, and engraving on opposite page).
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', with a particular accent on Louis XV and XVI antecedents, the firm received accolades at many of the late 19th century exhibitions, including a medaille 'd'or at the 1889 Paris Exposition universelle, and a Grand Prix at the 1900 exhibition. Like that of their contemporary, François Linke, Maison Millet's impressive and award-winning stand at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair (see photo above) was testimony to the wealthy and sizable American clientele attracted by the firm. 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.
Another example of Piat's grande horloge, executed entirely in bronze by Charpentier-Lemerle, was sold Sotheby's New York, November 3, 1999, lot 514 ($222,500). A third example, also bronze and by Charpentier-Lemerle, sold the same rooms, Property of the Burbridge Foundation Collection, September 12, 1996, lot 453 ($200,500).