Empire countertop clock

Table clock L'amour faisant passer le temps Louis Simon Boizot (attributable to) and Basile-Charles Le Roy

Paris, around 1810.


The gilt bronze mantel clock has a base supported by four winged lion feet: on the front band, in bronze bas-relief, there are two shells on the sides while in the central part there are a crossed trident and an oar; the upper part is chiseled with a burin and depicts the sea waves, from which the heads of two monstrous animals emerge; above them rests a boat with two swan-shaped beaks and inside which is housed the plinth that houses the clock face, in gilded and chiseled bronze.

On the boat there are the figures of Time (also called Cronus) and Love, respectively represented as a bearded and winged elderly man accompanied by an hourglass, a sign of the inexorable progress of time, and of a putto with small wings that he holds in his hands an oar, used to steer the boat; an anchor rests at his feet.

The bronze part denotes a great skill in execution, as evidenced by the idealized but at the same time naturalistic rendering, resolved with a skilful work of chisel in the representation of details, such as the plumage of the wings and swans, the hair and beard of the two figures . Great attention was also paid to the sculptural rendering of the anatomies, especially that of Time was successful.
The display of the clock with Roman numerals for the hours bears the inscription “Le Roy h.ger du Roi / A PARIS” at the bottom.

Dimensions: 47 × 58.5 x 17 cm

Historical-stylistic analysis:

The design of the table clock is commonly attributed to a model by the famous Parisian sculptor Louis Simon Boizot; the theme depicted is taken from Le voyage – Comédies, Proverbes et Chansons, by Joseph-Alexandre Ségur, in turn inspired by a famous Italian proverb: “Love makes time pass and time makes love pass”.

The original model found widespread appreciation by the Parisian aristocracy of the early nineteenth century, as evidenced by the numerous examples recently passed on the international market, for which however small variations can be found. The ones most similar to the watch in question are those recently auctioned (Artcurial, 15 Avril 2014, lot. 247; Sotheby’s, New York, 18 November 2011, lot. 69), both almost identical with the only exceptions of the scythe in the hand. left of Crono in a couple of specimens and the rostrum in the shape of a swan, replaced in the version passed in New York by a putto playing a trumpet. The character of Amore who is rowing instead presents substantial differences in two other examples (Sotheby’s, Paris, 28 September 2016, lot. 425; Artcurial, 27 Avril 2018, lot. 231), where he is depicted in a more dynamic position, the oar facing the opposite direction. The specimen that differs most from ours is the one owned by Antiques Delaval, developed in a mirror image of those considered and in any case of a lower quality.

A similar variant but in bisque ceramic is kept at the Mobilier National à Paris.

Empire countertop clock
Artcurial, 15 Avril 2014, lot. 247
Empire countertop clock
Sotheby's, New York, 18 November 2011, lot. 69
Empire countertop clock
Sotheby's, Paris, 28 September 2016
Empire countertop clock
Artcurial, 27 Avril 2018, lot. 231
Empire countertop clock
Antiques Delaval property

The author of the mechanism that is signed on the exhibition is Basile-Charles Le Roy (Paris, 1765-1839), a watchmaker in Paris, who signs both our watch and the one passed to Sotheby, s in 2016, where however he signs “H .re de Madame ”, it is Madame Mere, Maria Letizia Ramolino, mother of Napoleon Bonaparte. It is in fact one of the most popular shops since the 18th century. inherited from his father Bazile Le Roy (1731-1804), and who, with the arrival of his son Charles-Louis in 1828, will begin to sign Le Roy et Fils.


– Pierre Khellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Paris, Editions de l’Amateur, 1997, p. 408, fig. A;

– Dupuy-Baylet, Marie-France, Pendules du Mobilier National 1800-1870, Dijon, Éditions Faton, 2006, pp. 49-50.

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