This monumental clock was a diplomatic gift presented by Napoleon to Robert Livingston, the American minister to France from 1801 to 1804. The classically inspired decoration on the clock includes a figure and relief of Apollo, the Greek sun god; a laurel wreath; and a smaller plaque representing Ganymede, the Greek wine bearer of the gods. These elements were part of the design vocabulary of the Neoclassical style, called Empire in France.
Gilded bronze, marble, enamel
33 1/2 × 26 × 9 1/4 in. (85.1 × 66 × 23.5 cm) (show scale)
Inscribed on clock face: "Henry Voisin A - Paris"
Gift of Mrs. Frederick A. Yenni
Clock, Empire style. Case is gilt bronze, square construction with applied decoration of stars, wreaths and ribbons, surrounding a white enamel face with without glass covering. The face is inscribed. The clock case rests on a slab of marble and has to its proper right a mythological figure with one arm on top of the clock and holding a harp. To the proper left is a flame torchiere resting on a tricorn base decorated by three rams heads. A gold laurel wreath is leaning against the base of the torchiere.
This item is not on view
(internal clockworks) Henry Voisin (French, active early 19th century). Clock, ca. 1800. Gilded bronze, marble, enamel, 33 1/2 × 26 × 9 1/4 in. (85.1 × 66 × 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Frederick A. Yenni, 39.438a. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 39.438a_front_PS6.jpg)
front, 39.438a_front_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2012
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Is this a specific style?
The Henri Voison clock is a good example of the "Empire Style" which idealized Napoleon's leadership and the French state. We could also refer to this style as "Neoclassical," which in the United States is more based on the designs of Classical Greece and Rome. It makes references to Greek and Roman mythology, including the god Apollo here.
Does this clock still work?
Hm, I don't think so. The hands in the photo you sent are in the same position as the photo we have on file so it looks like it hasn't tick-tocked in a while!
Please tell me more.
This clock, designed by Henri Voisin, is an example of "Empire Style" which idealized Napoleon's leadership and the French state. It was a gift from Napoleon to Robert Livingston, American minister to France between 1801 and 1805. Notice Apollo's posture, with all the weight on one leg. This pose is known as "contrapposto". Ancient Greek sculptors arranged figures in this way to create a sense of subtle dynamism and naturalism. Designers of the Empire Style were looking to Classical Art for inspiration.