The Decorative Art page contains 50 images of clocks, vases, candelabra, and other
decorative objects taken at Getty Center, compiled from several visits to the museum.
Eight images of a Kylix (wine cup) and three Amphorae taken after they were moved
to the Getty Villa are included among the images which are displayed on this page.

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Leda Night Clock Andromeda 4052

Baroque Side Table, Italian, Rome, c. 1720-1730, carved and gilt linden wood with marble top.

The form and decoration of this massive table, animated by masks and female heads turning in all directions, display the dynamic style of the Baroque in Rome. Certain aspects, however, point to the transition toward the Rococo, including bits of draped garlands, the broken architectural elements, and the freely handled scrolls. Beneath the top, stretchers boldly curve out from the center to connect the four legs, which turn and twist outwards.

Companion pieces are located in an English castle and in the Palazzo Barberini in Rome. The three tables must have been part of a larger set of tables that decorated the grand hall of an important Roman palazzo in the 1700s.

The Night Clock is detailed below. Visit the Bronze Sculptures page for detail on the sculptures.


Medici Night Clock Pietre Dure Foggini 3227

Night Clock, Giovanni Battista Foggini, woodwork: Leonard van der Vinne.
Italian, Florence, 1704-1705, ebony, gilt bronze, and semiprecious stones.

Giovanni Battista Foggini was artistic director for the Grand Duke of Tuscany in Florence from 1694-1725. During this time, table clocks became more fashionable, Most had ebony cases with pietre dure reliefs or mosaics and gilded bronze appliqués. On this night clock, a multicolored parrot draws the attention to the clock face, along with stylized flowers. A seahorse spirals across the center of the clock base, flanked by two small dragons on the column plinths. There is a third dragon on the cornice just below the clock face. Leonardo van der Vinne, the Flemish ebony specialist, made the case. Atop the case are two dynamic putti resting on volutes and on the crowning pillar, a miniature of Pietro Tacca's bronze of c. 1630 called "Il Porcellino" (the piglet), one of the most famous symbols of Florence, which was copied from a Hellenistic marble in the Uffizi.

This timepiece was a collaborative effort of several of the most skilled artists who worked for the Medici family in Florence, including Leonard van der Vinne and Giovanni Battista Foggini. In addition, the statue of the boar mounted on the top may have been modeled by Massimiliano Soldani Benzi, based on a classical marble statue in the Uffizi. The clock's architectural shape copies the form of church altarpieces, while its elaborate stone decoration includes both flat scrolls in mosaics and innovative three-dimensional fruit garlands at the sides. The mechanism was created by Francesco Papillion.

Night clocks were designed to indicate the hours with a dial illuminated from behind with an oil lamp. In this way, the numbers would have been visible in a dark or dimly lighted room. They never became very popular, however, as keeping the lamp alight through the night required constant care, either by refueling or trimming the wick.


Tabletop Pietre Dure HS9429

Pietre Dure Tabletop, Italian, Florence or Rome, c. 1580-1600

Pietre dure and marble commesso (mosaic) top including breccia di Tivoli (or Quintilina), giallo antico,
 nero antico, breccia rossa, breccia cenerina, breccia verde, broccatello, bianco e nero antico, serpentine,
alabaster fiorito and alabaster tartaruga, lapis lazuli, coral, rock crystal, and yellow and black jasper.

The technique of hard and softstone inlay flourished in ancient Greece and Rome and was revived in Renaissance Italy, particularly in Rome and Florence. In early Renaissance examples geometric patterns prevailed, but by the end of the 1500s, as the demanding technique was mastered, artists began to include more pictorial elements, such as the scrolling foliage on this tabletop. Each decorative component is outlined in white marble, which sets off every richly colored and patterned element from the other and emphasizes the table's jewel-like quality.

This tabletop must have been produced after 1559, as the stone of the large central oval, breccia di Tivoli, was only discovered in the ruins of the ancient Villa di Quintiliolo at Tivoli when Cardinal Innocenzo del Monte was transferred there during the papacy of Pius V in 1559. The stone was highly prized for its rarity and its variegated colors, which resemble gems set in dark stone.


Wall Clock Dragon Monkey and Flowers 1713


Barometer Cressent 1714

Wall Clock, Charles Voisin, Chantilly Porcelain Manufactory, French, Paris and Chantilly, c. 1740

This unusual wall clock has a case made entirely of soft-paste porcelain. The porcelain manufactory of Chantilly was owned by the Prince de Condé, which began to produce works in 1725 under the leadership of Ciquaire Cirou, using an opaque tin glaze rather than the translucent lead glaze used by other factories. Early products were mostly copies of Japanese porcelain from the large collection of the Prince. By 1740 (the date of this clock) the factory was producing objects in the contemporary French style, but the oriental influence can be seen in the incorporation of an exotic dragon and a monkey into the floral design.

The winged dragon perches above the dial, with its tail extending down the right side, ending in a flourish. A goose climbs the foliage at the upper left, not far from the dragon's mouth. The monkey sits below the dial, among the branches of leaves and flowers which form the clock case. An undulating gilt bronze garland of leaves and berries surrounds the entire clock, and the rim of the dial is surrounded with single gilt bronze flowers backed by leaves. This clock is of a type known as a pendule d'alcove, intended to be hung in a bed alcove. It strikes the nearest hour when a string protruding from the case is pulled, allowing the owner to learn the time in the dark without having to light a candle.

Barometer on a Bracket, attributed to Charles Cressent, French, Paris, c. 1755

Since the wooden interior of the gilt bronze case has been cut away to provide space for the swing of a pendulum, scholars know that this case originally held a clock movement. These alterations date to the 1930s, when the Duveen brothers, antiques dealers, converted it into a barometer to form a pair with a similar clock, now also in the Getty's collection.

The cabinetmaker/sculptor Charles Cressent made the case. In the corner of the pastel painting of Gabriel Bernard de Rieux by Maurice-Quentin de la Tour sits a similar model in the form of a clock standing on a cabinet. One of the most important ébénistes of the 1700s, Cressent originally trained as a sculptor and liked to design and make his own gilt bronze mounts. This practice, which broke strict guild regulations, brought large fines and forced him to hold several sales of his works. He had a roster of wealthy patrons but his passion for collecting paintings kept him continually in debt. Cressent himself wrote a detailed description of a model for this barometer in an auction catalogue from 1757.


Planisphere Clock Latz 3215


Planisphere Clock Latz HS9550

Planisphere Clock, Jean-Pierre Latz, furniture worker, French, Paris, 1745-1749.
Oak veneered with kingwood, mahogany, and bois satiné; bronze mounts; brass dials.

Alexandre Fortier’s movement for this highly complex terrestrial and astronomical clock is missing, but this elaborate timepiece demonstrates the level of astronomical knowledge of eighteenth-century French scientists. The large main dial is composed of overlapping circular plates and three hands that indicate the time with a twenty-four hour chapter ring, the months of the year and their zodiacal signs, the days of the lunar month, and the local time in various cities and parts of the world. The four smaller dials grouped above show the phases of the moon, a tidal calendar for the ports of Northern France, the days of the week, and the times of the eclipses of Jupiter's first moon, Io. On the top of the case, a gilt-wood orrery shows the relative positions and motions of bodies in the solar system. Alexandre Fortier was a mathematician and inventor in Paris in the first half of the 17th c.

The case itself, with its distinctive form and gilt mounts is attributed to Jean-Pierre Latz. The case is divided into two parts. The main dial is covered by a circular convex glass, the smaller dials by a shaped panel of flat glass. The sides are fitted with solid doors which lower on hinges. The remaining areas of the case are veneered with kingwood, and panels of trellis parquetry are set below the dial and on the sides. The hollow lower section of the base is of bombe form and raised on short cabriole legs. It is veneered with kingwood and bois satine, the front and sides bearing panels of trellis parquetry. All of the mounts on the lower section are marked with the crowned tax stamp, but none of the upper mounts are marked. This means that the upper section was completed before 1745 and the lower part after this date.

Jean-Pierre Latz designed and made his own gilded bronze mounts at least until 1749 (illegally, as there was a guild of tradesmen specifically for that work), and since these were made before the date that the guild inspected his shop and began litigation against him, these mounts were all made by Latz.

Very few such elaborate clocks have survived to the present, and only four of Latz’s signed clocks survive.


Mantel Clock Martincourt 1685

Mantel Clock, Étienne Martincourt, Movement by Charles Le Roy & Son.
French, Paris, c. 1765-1772, gilt and chased bronze, enameled metal.

This mantel clock is a masterpiece of modeling, casting, chasing and gilding. All of the small decorative elements such as the garland of laurel around the face, the rosettes filling the trellis on the plinth, and the husks in the flutes of the vase support were cast together with the major elements which they decorate rather than being made separately and attached afterwards. To the left sits an allegorical female figure with a celestial globe represents Astronomy (or Sidereal Time), and on the right, an allegorical female figure representing Geography (or Terrestrial Time) holds a loosely rolled map. Both figures are well modeled and must have been made by an accomplished sculptor.

The face and movement are signed Charles Le Roy, but as Charles died in 1771 and two of the springs are dated 1772, the movement must have been completed after his death by his son,  Étienne-Augustin Le Roy, who signed his father’s name to his final work, following the accepted practice of the day.

As is often the case with objects made entirely of bronze, the clock is not signed. In an inventory of the clockmaker André Lepaute, a similar clock is described as being modeled, and a drawing of this work still survives, signed by the bronze caster Étienne Martincourt. At the time of the French Revolution, this clock stood on the mantel of Louis XVI's Salon de Conseil (Council Room) at the Tuileries Palace. This clock still functions, and tolls the hour and half-hour to this day.


Mantel Clock Mounted Vases 3151

The Martincourt Mantel Clock standing beside two mounted Chinese Porcelain vases in the Getty Museum.

The case is constructed entirely of gilt bronze. The movement is contained in an ovoid urn topped by a finial, girdled by a band of rosette-filled guilloche. At the center of each side, rectangular brackets hold loose rings. The urn is decorated with four large acanthus leaves set within burnished frames between which rise rods that terminate above in leafy buds. Wreaths of laurel leaves, tied at the top with a ribbon, surround the dial and the hinged door at the back. The fluted stem of the urn ends in a laurel wreath base. The two figures sit on a plinth below this base. The entire sculpted composition thus formed rests on a rectangular platform, the semicircular ends of which are decorated with panels of studded guilloche, and the front and back with reeded gadrooning. This platform rests at either end on a recessed semicircular substructure with a modified egg and dart motif.


Mantel Clock Mounted Vases 1687

The Martincourt Mantel Clock, shot from an oblique angle to allow a view of the back in the mirror.


Mantel Clock Martincourt 3830


Mounted Chinese Porcelain Vase 1686

Mantel Clock, Étienne Martincourt, Charles and Étienne-Augustin Le Roy.
Pair of Vases, Chinese porcelain, mid-1700s; French mounts, Paris, c. 1775

Birds perch atop stalks of bamboo amid flowering prunus branches on these baluster-shaped vases, painted in China in underglaze blue, copper-red, and white on a celadon ground. These vases were designed as purely decorative objects, rather than primarily as containers for flowers. That Chinese porcelain was still being mounted around 1775 indicates its enduring popularity among Europeans. In the 1700s, French taste gradually moved away from blue-and-white to polychrome porcelains.

The gilt mounts include a rim, a foot, and infant satyrs holding the ends of two-piece laurel swags, secured to the vases at a false knot with an iron screw through the body of the vase. The heaviness of the gilt bronze mounts indicates that they were made relatively early during the Neoclassical period. The general forms and decorative elements on the mounts are similar to those on other mounted porcelains and mounted hardstones, presumably all made by a single unknown bronzier. Most stand on stemmed pedestals, have swags on their upper bodies, and include infant figures from mythology. Though the vocabulary of decorative motifs spans the various objects, the mounts themselves are rarely duplicated. These are the only known examples with infant satyrs.


Mantel Clock Le Noir 1715

Mantel Clock for a Cartonnier, Etienne Le Noir, French, Paris, 1746.
(Mounted on a cartonnier cabinet by Bernard van Risenburgh, 1745).

The white oak case is veneered with alder which has been painted with black European vernis (lacquer). The vernis is decorated with scattered flower heads and branches of flowers and leaves all in gold. Painted bronze figures of a Chinese woman with a tambourine and a man with a horn are seated on the broad shoulders of the case, and two painted bronze children are seated above. All are dressed in black robes lined with red. The scrolling symmetrical mounts, which surround the dial and the aperture below and outline the profiles of the clock, are set with laurel, berries, and garlands of flowers.

The cartonnier is stamped Bernard van Risenburgh, but van Risenburgh made very few clock cases and none bear his stamp. This case may have been made for Thomas-Joachim Hebert (for whom van Risenburgh worked). The casemaker is unknown, but Pierre Verlet, discussing a similarly-mounted clock in Munich, suggested that such work was a specialty of the Martin Bros. The painted black and gold decoration is thus known as vernis Martin, named after the Martin Brothers, who excelled at imitating Japanese lacquer. Their workshop probably also supplied the bronze Chinese figures.


Clock with Donkey and Flowers 1712

A French Mantel Clock of gilt bronze made in 1745. The clock is supported on a donkey’s back
and surrounded by flowers emanating from the tree at left. The base has sculpted shells, a hunter
and his dog, leaves, mushrooms and a small animal at right. I can find no other information on it.

Below, two intricately veneered and ornate early long-case French clocks.


Long-Case Clock Oppenordt 1787


Long-Case Clock Boulle HS9525

Long-Case Musical Clock, case attributed to Alexandre-Jean Oppenordt, after designs by Gilles-Marie Oppenord,
Clock movement by Jean-François Dominic, musical movement by Michel Stollenwerck, French, Paris, c. 1712.
Oak and walnut veneered with brass and tortoiseshell, enameled metal, gilt bronze mounts, glass.

Through both the decoration and mechanism, this clock and its lavishly ornamented case illustrate the latest scientific discoveries at the beginning of the 1700s. A bronze figure representing Fame stands atop the clock on a dome, above winged dragons on the canted corners below, seated on an openwork grill composed of floral swags and scrolls. The arched bronze molding over the clock face supports Fame's plumed helmet flanked by crossed trumpets. At the four corners of the case are allegorical bronze figures representing the four known continents at the time: Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas.

The dial is formed by five enameled segments with hour and minute indications, and a central gilt bronze plate with apertures for the month and day. Below the dial is a brass grill engraved with geometric designs and allegorical symbols corresponding to five of the seven planets known at the beginning of the 1700s: Saturn (Time), Mars (War), Mercury, Venus (Love), and Jupiter. On a small bronze platform in front of this grill is a seated bronze figure of Apollo with his lyre in his left hand and his feet resting on the dragon Python, whom he slew in his youth. Below the platform is the head of a laughing satyr, partially covering a panel of brass and tortoiseshell marquetry depicting a rocky ground occupied by a rabbit, a flying bird and a dragonfly. The lower corners of the upper case terminate in tortoiseshell-inlaid inverted consoles set with female masks, standing on ram's heads.

Marquetry in première partie and contre partie of brass and red-ground tortoiseshell is in various sections of both the upper and lower clock case. The interior of the clock case is also decorated with contre partie marquetry, most depicting inversions of scenes on the front of the case. The upper part of the pedestal (lower case) has a large centered gilt bronze mount with a blank cartouche. Below is the large glazed viewing aperture, at the bottom of which is a large gilt bronze crescent moon. At the top of each corner pilaster is a large gilt bronze mount composed of auricular forms centered by cabochons. The long pilasters are ornamented with illusionistic tortoiseshell marquetry cannelures. The base of the pedestal is supported by four hairy paws which are topped by acanthus, and in the center, a large lion mask, below which depend five triangular forms with guttae (drops).

The clock and pedestal were originally separate pieces. At some point, Gilles-Marie Oppenord transformed them from a clock on a pedestal (probably made by his father, Alexandre-Jean Oppenordt) to a long-case clock, which kept time more accurately. Craftsmen placed the pendulum and weights of the later movement into a pedestal base, cut an opening into the front to show the pendulum's swing, then added additional bronze mounts to mask the alterations and further decorate this ornate clock.

Long Case Clock (Régulateur), case attributed to André-Charles Boulle, movement by Antoine Gaudron, French,
 Paris, c. 1680-1690. Oak veneered with tortoiseshell, pewter, brass, ebony, and ebonized fruitwood; gilt bronze mounts.

When Dutchman Christiaan Huygens invented the more accurate long-pendulum clock in 1657, other clock makers soon followed, adapting the design of their cases accordingly. In this early example, the pendulum and weights have been enclosed in a long case for protection. The center of the narrow body swells to allow for the pendulum's swing, and it has a viewing hole to observe the movement. A phrase from Virgil engraved beneath the dial: Solem audet dicere falsum (It dares the Sun to tell a lie) alludes to the accuracy of this type of clock and its ability to demonstrate the irregularity of the sun's orbit.

The clock case is made in two principal parts: the case and the pedestal which supports it and houses the weights and pendulum. The surfaces of both cabinets are veneered with a ground of tortoiseshell inlaid with pewter and brass in the form of intertwining leafy scrolls, tendrils, pendants, swags and rosettes. The marquetry on the columns depicts swirling vines, and atop the columns are Corinthian capitals. Atop the case is a gilt bronze mount depicting a girl seated on the back of a goat, feeding it grapes, and flaming urns are at the corners above the columns. The dial is of an engraved gilt bronze set with enameled Roman numeral plaques. Below the dial is a gilt bronze figure of Time, seated and supporting the dial with his raised arms. To his right are an hourglass and an overturned urn spilling coins, to his left are a profusion of objects symbolizing the liberal arts. The intricate scrolling floral composition around the viewing hole comes together above the viewing hole, then frames a small bird in flight chasing a butterfly above the viewing hole.

Below the swelled section of the upper pedestal surrounding the viewing hole and covering the top of the lower part of the pedestal is a piece called a lambrequin, made to resemble a short piece of decorative drapery. The lambrequin is covered with marquetry which ties the design on the lower pedestal together with that on the upper pedestal, and is edged with a fringe of gilt bronze which matches the upper edge of the lower pedestal, the molding around the viewing hole, and the molding around the dial. The marquetry below the lambrequin is an elaborate tassel-like design, similar to the compositions on both sides of the case. Pewter stringing frames all of the panels and defines the edges of the case.

On the basis of the marquetry pattern, the case is attributed to the ébéniste André-Charles Boulle. The inventories of Louis XIV identify a clock of the same design and similar marquetry, now in the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris. While the marquetry on the Boulle clock is not as ornate as that on the Oppenourdt clock, Boulle was so well-known for his marquetry skill that his name became associated with the method he perfected of inlaying brass and tortoiseshell, known as Boulle work.


Wall Clock Foullet and Wall Lights 3143

Wall Clock on Bracket, case and bracket: Antoine Foullet, movement by Lapina, French, Paris, c. 1764.
Oak veneered with red, green, and cream painted horn and brass sheeting, enameled metal, gilt bronze.

Ornamentation in the early Neoclassical style, such as ram's heads and satyr's heads, overlay this clock case and its supporting bracket. The flaming urns, swags, and Greek key fretwork were all motifs commonly used in the goût grec (Greek taste).

Atop the clock is a gilt bronze urn placed on a wooden plinth veneered with horn and surrounded on three sides by a freestanding brass fret pierced with a Greek key pattern, which is also seen on both sides of the urn. Above the white enamel dial is a lion's head with a ribbon bow in its mouth. At the two front corners facing away from the top of the dial are two smiling satyr's heads set on consoles with scrolling tops and flutes. Suspended from the bottom of these consoles is a swag of oak leaves with acorns, caught up in the center at the bottom of the dial. The concave surface of the case around the dial is veneered with brass sheeting with geometric cutouts inlaid with red, green and cream painted horn.

Below the swag at the bottom of the dial is a flaming urn with a length of drapery threaded through its handles, which partially covers a trapezoidal glass viewing panel. The clock is supported on four short fluted feet which rest on the bracket. The upper edge of the bracket is mounted with a broad gilt bronze molding decorated with Vitruvian scrolls. Below the molding, five gilt bronze consoles separate the fan-shaped bracket into four panels, each veneered with brass sheeting with geometric cutouts inlaid with red, green and cream painted horn. Goat's heads decorate the front three consoles, with a ribbon swag suspended between these and the two rear consoles. The bracket terminates in a large acanthus bud.

The use of horn veneer painted red, green, and cream seems to be unique among French clocks and furniture; it may have been an attempt to imitate cloisonné enamel on Chinese bronzes.

Pair of Wall Lights, Philippe Caffieri, French, Paris, c. 1765-1770, gilt bronze.

Part of a set of six wall lights with gilt bronze swags, mounted vases with handles, and an acorn at the bracket end, these wall lights superbly match the Foullet clock, almost as if Caffieri had this clock in mind (the wall lights were made just after the clock).


Wall Clock Foullet 1680

A detail shot of the Foullet wall clock. Note the geometric painted horn inlay.


Porphyry and Granite Mounted Vases 1684

Pair of Mounted Vases, French, Paris, c. 1770, porphyry and gilt bronze mounts.

Although techniques for working porphyry had existed in Italy in the 1500s, French craftsmen in the 1700s had difficulty carving this very hard stone. Partly because Louis XV established a quarry to supply such stones, hardstones--particularly antique ones such as alabaster and porphyry--became very popular in France towards the end of the 1700s. Patrons particularly sought out rare and precious porphyry, which they preferred set in fashionable gilt bronze mounts such as these.

In addition to the new quarry, technical advances in working the material contributed to its newfound popularity in France. The Duc d'Aumont, one of Louis XVI's most important ministers, oversaw a stone-working studio in the royal workshop of the Hotel des Menus-Plaisirs. He employed a bronzier to mount the hardstone vases, pedestals, and tabletops, and collected significant hardstone pieces. These solid porphyry columns were purely decorative elements in room decoration.

Granite Vase, French, Paris, c. 1770, granite, gilt bronze mounts.

Although primarily a decorative object, this bowl may once have held potpourri. Containers for potpourri first appeared in the 1700s in France, made from precious metals, porcelain, lacquer, or hardstones; recipes for their sweet-smelling contents were soon prevalent. Fashionable women experimented with flowers and perfumes to achieve the finest fragrances, which were sometimes left to mature for up to nine years.

In the late 1700s, the taste of collectors stimulated a renewed interest in hardstones mounted with gilt bronze. These mounts show the boldness and angularity of the early Neoclassical style known as goût grec (Greek taste). Both Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI owned many such objects, which they and others purchased for large sums of money.


Lidded Bowls French 3826

Pair of Lidded Bowls, French, Paris, c. 1775, cut glass, gilt bronze mounts.

Scents of potpourri once escaped from the pierced holes around the shoulders of these bowls. Containers for potpourri first appeared in the 1700s in France, made from gold, silver, porcelain, or even glass; recipes for potpourri were soon prevalent, as indoor plumbing was rudimentary and bathing frequently was considered unhealthy. Fashionable women experimented with flowers and perfumes to achieve the finest fragrances, which were sometimes left to mature for up to nine years.

Glass mounted with gilt bronze is rare. Bronze casters were more usually commissioned to create decorative mounts for hardstone, porcelain, or lacquer pieces. The mounts of these bowls are in the Neoclassical style, fashionable in Paris during the 1760s and 1770s. The guilloche or chain pattern, the lions' heads with the rings in their mouths, and the laurel leaf swags were all popular ornamental motifs used during this period. The eighteenth-century fashion for mounting various materials such as rock crystal, hardstone, and porcelain is well known from the substantial number of objects that survive, but these potpourri vessels are rare survivals of mounted cut glass.

Defocused between the glass bowls is a white Lidded Pot of Chinese (Kangxi) hard-paste porcelain (1690-1700) with French gilt bronze mounts, (c. 1765-1770). This small blanc-de-chine porcelain pot once had a handle and spout and would have been used for serving tea or wine in China. When it was imported into France in the mid-1700s, a Parisian merchant adapted the piece from a useful ware into a purely decorative object. He directed a specialized craftsman to make the gilt bronze base and lid and to cast handles formed of leafy scrolls to cover the holes where the porcelain spout and handle once projected.


Standing Vase Thomire HS9612


Candelabra with Vase Feuchere 3860

Standing Vase, Mounts attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire
Porcelain: Chinese, mid-1700s; Mounts: French, about 1785
Hard-paste porcelain, gilt bronze mounts, rouge griotte marble

A marchand-mercier probably commissioned both the design and execution of this vase. He would have purchased the Chinese porcelain bowl and ordered Pierre-Philippe Thomire to make the mounts in gilt bronze. In this design, four elegant legs extend from satyrs' heads, linked with swags of vine leaves and bunches of grapes, to terminate in goat's hooves. The large porcelain bowl is covered with a powder blue glaze known as bleu souffle in France, because the powedered color was blown onto the vase through a bamboo tube.

This vase was once part of the collection of the Polish Princess Isabella Lubomirska, a great friend of Marie-Antoinette. The Polish princess, who spent a great deal of time in Paris before the French Revolution, is reputed to have acquired this vase (and much more) at the sale of the contents of the palace of Versailles in 1794, bringing twenty coachloads of furniture back to her estates in Poland. Another was bought from Thomire et Cie. (maker of the mounts, who bought it at the Revolution sale) by the Prince Regent (later King George IV) for his London residence, Carlton House. That vase now stands in Windsor Castle.

One of a Pair of Standing Candelabra, attributed to Lucien-François Feuchère
French, Paris, 1784-1786, blued metal, gilt bronze

Candelabra such as this pair would have been placed on a mantelpiece, a commode, or a secrétaire in a salon of a stylish Parisian townhouse.

Scholars use various decorative details to identify and precisely date an object like this. The gilt bronze figures of women with Egyptian headdresses and acanthus leaves clustered with fruit and flowers are of the same form as the mounts on three Chinese porcelain vases now in the Musée du Louvre. The aunts of Louis XVI, princesses Adélaïde and Victoire, ordered these vases from the marchand-mercier François-Charles Darnault in 1786 for their château of Bellevue. The candelabra may have been produced at the same time.


Fluted Doric Candlestick Palagi 1670

One of a Pair of Candlesticks, Filippo Pelagio Palagi, Italian, Bologna, c. 1830-1840, gilt bronze.

Fluted Doric columns on rectangular pedestals molded with classical motifs form the main structures of this pair of candlesticks. Winged figures and male nudes participate in the design by holding drip pans and candle sockets in their outstretched arms.

In 1832, the celebrated Bolognese designer and architect Filippo Pelagio Palagi was selected by King Carlo Alberto of Savoy to redecorate a number of rooms in several of his royal palaces. Palagi was strongly influenced by the Empire style which was beng diffused throughout Italy by the Bonaparte courts, incorporating Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman motifs, which he combined eclectically. The formal yet inventive style of these candlesticks is in keeping with the King's taste and other metal objects and furniture designed by Palagi, so scholars assume that these pieces originally formed part of the decor of one of the Piedmontese palaces. The pen drawing for one of these candlesticks is in the collection of the Biblioteca dell'Archiginnasio in Bologna. This drawing, like the candlesticks themselves, exemplifies the elegant graphic quality of Palagi's work.


Chandelier Galle 1691


Chandelier Paris 1695

Chandelier, Gérard-Jean Galle, French, Paris, c. 1818-1819, gilt bronze, enameled metal, glass.

A hot air balloon inspired the design of this fanciful chandelier with a blue lacquered globe strewn with gold stars above a glass bowl. The twelve signs of the zodiac wrap around the globe on a gilt bronze band. The branches and griffins bear candleholders for 18 lights. The maker, Gérard-Jean Galle, fitted the glass bowl with a plug and explained that it could hold water and small goldfish, "whose continuous movement amuses the eye most agreeably." When he exhibited the chandelier in 1819, he described it as a lustre à poisson (fish chandelier).

Galle tried to sell this chandelier along with other merchandise to the French King Louis XVIII in 1820. He desperately pleaded that these goods caused "the ruin of my factory and family" and promised that his stock was modestly priced, but the government rejected his offer. Conscious of popular criticism of governmental luxury, the bureaucrats argued that they could not purchase objects that were neither "advantageous nor useful." Galle was able to sell a number of them though, as one in the Swedish Royal Collection, more profusely adorned with glass drops, shows that the Getty’s example has been rather denuded.

Chandelier, French, Paris, c. 1700, gilt bronze and glass.

Early chandeliers such as this one were constructed with a central shaft made of gilt wood or bronze. The frame was then decorated with glass beads strung into garlands or elaborate shapes such as flowers and crowns. The glass or rock crystal drops reflected the light produced by the flickering candles. This small model would probably have hung in a private study or bedroom rather than a large public salon.


Torchere Carlini 1699


Torchere Carlini detail HS9555

One of a Pair of Torchères, designed by Pieter de Swart, carved by Agostino Carlini (lead craftsman),
Dutch, c. 1748-1753. Gessoed, painted, and gilt limewood; crushed glass; base possibly of dogwood.

Carved with dragons, flowers, and grotesque masks, these large torchères or candlestands are part of a set of eight made for the Oranjezaal (Orange Room) of Prince William IV of Orange and Nassau in his summer residence of Huis ten Bosch (the House in the Woods) just outside the Hague. Crushed and gilded glass set into the base provides a contrasting textural surface to the gilded and burnished gilding above.

Torchères were used as stands for candelabra and were usually placed in pairs on either side of a table or in the corners of a room. These torchères were most likely made to support crystal girandoles or candelabra, but they serve as lively decorative pieces in their own right. The detailed carving and playful figurative forms are a combination of the energetic Rococo styles practiced in France, Italy and the Netherlands in the mid-18th century and demonstrate Swart's internationalism (he had recently returned from training at the Paris École des Arts for two years, sponsored by the Prince). The surface of the wood around the oval openings are covered with small fragments of broken glass, which are now gilded. Inside the opening are two globular seed pods resting on leaves. Above the opening is the head of a Chimera, partially dissolving into the foliate forms around and behind. Just above, a winged dragon emerges from an irregular opening to confront another dragon clambering around the trunk. The torchères are mirrored — at right above is detail of the second torchère with figures facing in the opposite directions.


Torchere Carlini detail 3823


Torchere Carlini detail 3822

Detail of Carlini’s carving on the gessoed and gilded Torchères by Pieter de Swart.


Roman Gold Beaker 2177

Beaker, Roman, Knidos (Turkey), 1st century AD, gold.

Reportedly found by a sponge fisherman off the west coast of Turkey in the early 1900s, this beaker is one of only six gold vessels known to have survived since antiquity.


Ivory Stemmed Covered Cup 1820

Stemmed Covered Cup, Turned and Carved Ivory, Marcus Heiden, German, Coburg, 1631

Marcus Heiden worked in the courts of Duke Johann Casimir (Coburg), Duke Johann Ernest (Eisenach), and Duke Wilhelm (Weimar). He may have trained in Dresden, one of the main centers in the art of ivory turning. Many ivories are attributed to Heiden, but only nine including this cup are securely documented as being his work. This cup is inscribed under the base: Marcus Heiden.Coburgensis.Fecit.1631 — it was probably made for Duke Johann Casimir of Coburg.

This cup exhibits the two most important innovations of 17th century turned ivories: the inclusion of sculpted figures and the introduction of asymmetrical forms around a shifting vertical axis, demonstrating the Baroque interest in animated movement and precarious balance. The nude infants playing musical instruments around the body and the cherub with bow and arrow atop the cover were probably added later in the 17th century. This cup was made as a work of art and was never used for drinking.


Ivory Stemmed Covered Cup 1820 detail
(detail crops  —  no linked image)

This was the Getty Museum's first work of ivory from the Baroque period (1995). It is an extraordinary example of ivory turned on a lathe, a process which originated in the 14th century and became increasingly popular in the seventeenth century due to the contemporary fascination with machines and a love of technical effects. The goblet is made up of four parts: the octagonal base; the cherub blowing a horn; the cup which is divided into convex-concave geometrical shapes, the center of which is recessed and decorated with three musicians; and a multilayered lid atop which a cherub with bow and arrow representing Cupid balances on a sphere. The sculpted figures are superbly crafted, indicating the hand of an independent artist. One of the musicians is tuning a violin, another is playing a flute, and the third is singing from a piece of sheet music. The cherub blowing his horn is doing so with great exuberance.


Ivory Goblet Griessmann HS9176


Ivory Goblet Griessmann HS9176c

Ivory Goblet, Balthasar Griessmann, German, c. 1680, Ivory

Seemingly unaware of the activity all around him, a youth supine is the focus of gods; some tease and tempt him with pleasurable offerings, while others guide him toward prudence. Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, grasps his left hand urging him toward virtuous restraint. The god of wine, Bacchus, pours wine onto the young man to arouse his desires. Cupid, child-god of love, directs the youth's face toward his mother Venus who presses her right breast, emblematic of sybaritic pleasures.

The entire surface of the vessel is carved and showcases the technical virtuosity of its maker, Balthasar Griessmann. This ivory specialist skillfully moved between different degrees of relief: from figures fully sculpted in three-dimensions to extremely shallow passages. Floral Bacchic motifs cover the lid, base, and stem of the vessel. Putti bearing fruit-laden garlands cavort around the lid, which is surmounted at the pinnacle with a single putto brandishing a cup in one hand and a bunch of grapes in the other. At the base lie recumbent drunken putti and satyrs.

Griessmann faithfully derived the goblet's composition from a work by Otto van Veen, Allegory of the Temptations of Youth, known to the carver from a print by Antwerp artist Pieter Perret. Griessmann cunningly puts the allegory in the hands of the imbiber, who--like the youth--should consider the balance of indulgence with moderation. The virtuosity of the piece is such that it was most likely displayed at courtly banquets--a showpiece, to be viewed and admired, rather than utilized.


Kylix Boy Holding Lyre HS3618

Wine Cup with a Boy Holding a Lyre, Greek, Athens, c. 480 BC,
Signed by Douris, painter, attributed to Python, potter, Terracotta.

This is a moderately deep Attic red-figure cup with a plain rim and upturned handles, from the latter part of Douris’ career based upon the elements of the signature on the inside of the tondo. The tondo border is a pattern of a stopped meander alternating with a cross-square. There is a palmette and tendril configuration at each handle. The subject within the tondo is a bearded man and boy with a lyre. Both wear himations, the boy standing on the right with a tortoise-shell lyre in his left hand, his himation pulled up over his head, and his head lowered. The man stands on the left with his himation over his left shoulder, leaving his right shoulder and chest bare, leaning on a knotty staff. Behind the man is a diphros, its cushion decorated with cross-hatching.

Scenes of the daily lives of Athenian schoolboys decorate this red-figure cup. In addition to basic literacy and mathematics, Greek boys were trained in athletics and music. On the interior of the cup, a boy holding a lyre stands in front of a bearded man, who must be his music teacher. On the outside, men and boys form similar scenes. The imagined walls of the schoolroom are hung with musical instruments and athletic equipment: lyres, string bags with knucklebones, sponges, and aryballoi. The scenes on this cup are not purely educational, however. On one side of the vase, a boy holds a hare on his lap, while on the other, a man offers a hare to another boy. In addition to serving as a classroom, the gymnasion in its role as the center of Greek physical and intellectual life was also the center of romantic courtship. Hares were popular love gifts in the homosexual relationships between older men and boys favored by the Athenian aristocracy in the early 500s BC.


Amphora Prize Vessel Athenian Games HS3651


Amphora Prize Vessel Athenian Games HS3651c

Prize Vessel from the Athenian Games, attributed to the Painter of the Wedding Procession,
Signed by Nikodemos, potter, Greek, Athens, 363-362 BC, terracotta (35.25 in. tall).

This Attic black-figure amphora is of a special shape, given as prizes in the Panathenaic Games. They contained the olive oil pressed from the fruit of the groves sacred to the goddess Athena. This amphora contains the first recorded inscription of the potter Nikodemos, and is the first securely-dated Panathenaic amphora which depicts Athena facing to the right. Both sides of the neck of the amphora are decorated with addorsed palmette friezes, below which are descending black tongues.

The Panathenaia, a state religious festival, honored Athena, the patron goddess of Athens. Held in its expanded form every four years, the festival included athletic, musical, and other competitions. Amphorae filled with oil pressed from olives from the sacred trees of Athena were given as prizes in the Panathenaic Games. These amphorae had a special form with narrow neck and foot and a standard fashion of decoration. One side showed Athena Promachos, the goddess of war, armed and striding forth between columns decorated with acanthus leaves surmounted by Nikai carrying torches and fillets, and included the inscription "from the games at Athens". The other side showed the event for which the vase was a prize. Leading vase-painters, commissioned by the state, decorated these vessels, which continued to be decorated in the black-figure technique long after it had gone out of fashion for other vases, probably due to religious conservatism. The same religious conservatism applied to the depiction of Athena.

On this example (which was restored from fragments and remarkably retains its intact lid), the figure of Athena is portrayed in an Archaistic or old-fashioned style on the front of the vessel. The Nike figures atop akanthos columns flanking Athena are a detail that allows scholars to date this vase precisely to 363/362 BC, as they are unique to those two years. The back of the amphora (which is pictured above) depicts Nike, the goddess of victory, crowning the winner of a boxing match with the victor's fillet, while an older bearded judge looks on from the right and the light-haired defeated opponent looks on from the left. The leather thongs held by the youths identify them as boxers; they were wrapped around the hands and served as the ancient equivalent of boxing gloves. In 370 BC the victor in youth boxing won forty amphorae of oil; the second place winner took home eight.


Volute Krater Adonis Aphrodite Persephone HS4149


Volute Krater Adonis Aphrodite Persephone HS4143

Mixing Vessel with Adonis, Aphrodite, and Persephone, attributed to the Meleager Painter,
Greek, Athens, 390-380 BC, terracotta Volute Krater with Stand (21.375 in. tall).

On one side of the neck of this krater, Adonis, a god of vegetation, reclines on a couch between Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and Persephone, the queen of the underworld, and their female attendants. According to myth, Aphrodite fell in love with the beautiful mortal youth Adonis. Shortly after, he was killed in a hunting accident. Aphrodite was so distraught that Zeus, the king of the gods, made Adonis immortal, allowing him to leave Hades, the underworld of the dead, for part of the year to be with Aphrodite. He always, however, had to return to Hades, where he was Persephone's lover. This cycle of death and rebirth was linked with the regeneration of vegetation and the crop seasons in ancient Greece. Originating in the Near East, the cult of Adonis was introduced to Athens in about 440 BC; its devotees were exclusively female.

The black-glazed body of this krater is fluted in imitation of metallic prototypes. The fluting is interrupted at the shoulder by an olive wreath in relief, which preserves traces of the original gilding. The molded handles spring from high-relief protomes of Ethiopians on the shoulder of the vessel to form elaborate volutes. The flanges of the handles and the outer rings of the volutes are decorated in red-figure technique with myrtle, with gilded relief berries between the leaves. In the oculi of the volutes, within a ring of red-figure enclosed palmettes, are small gilded female heads molded in relief. Large openwork scrolls with attached leaves fill the spaces between the handles and the painted neck and rim. Beneath the painted kymation on the rim of the krater, palmette patterns decorate the mouth. Smaller bands of florals separate the palmette-lotus patterns from the figural scenes on either side of the neck.

The other side of the krater's neck shows a scene from a symposium, or drinking party, in which three male couples recline on couches. On the sides of the stand, a scene of Dionysos reclining with attendants mirrors the scene with Adonis above. A hunt scene with real and mythological animals covers the top of the stand. The stand is more elaborately decorated with red-figured scenes and patterns than the krater.


Volute Krater Adonis Aphrodite Persephone HS4149c


Volute Krater Adonis Aphrodite Persephone HS4143c

Detail from the base of the krater to the top, showing the fluting, volutes, palmettes and figures from two angles.

The form of this monumental vase, a volute-krater resting on a separately made stand, is exceptional. The combination of ribbing on the body of the vase and red-figure decoration is quite rare in Athenian pottery. Indeed, many aspects of this vase are more typical of the Greek colonies in South Italy than in Athens, perhaps indicating that this vase was meant to look South Italian or even made for export to that area.


Volute Krater Apollo and Artemis HS4153

Mixing Vessel with Apollo and Artemis, attributed to the Palermo Painter,
Greek, Lucania, South Italy, about 415-400 BC, terracotta Volute Krater (22 in. tall).

A fine example of Lucanian ceramics, this is the only volute krater that can currently be attributed to the Palermo Painter.

A gathering of deities decorates the front of this red-figure volute krater, made in a Greek colony in the region of Lucania in southern Italy. The twin gods Apollo and Artemis occupy the center of the scene. Apollo holds a kithara, denoting his role as god of music, and Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, is accompanied by her sacred deer. Their mother Leto stands at the right. On the left, the god Hermes leans on a pillar inscribed with his name, which represents either a boundary marker or a goalpost. Two pairs of youths stand conversing on the back of the vase.

The top of the lip is reserved. On it is an egg-and-dot pattern, and under the lip are enclosed upright palmettes. A black relief border runs between narrow reserved lines with a pink wash. On the neck, side A shows a laurel wreath to the right, with pointed leaves and added red stems. On side B is a veined laurel wreath with berries on the right, also with pointed leaves. The berries and leaf stems are painted pink. Both wreaths appear between narrow reserved lines, the lower one inset. On the shoulder are tongues between reserved lines. Below the scenes on the body is a meander band, groups of two, three, and four interrupted by crossed squares with a black dot in each corner. The edge of the foot is reserved, with a narrow black line, and the underside is reserved. The volutes have a central vent hole. On the flange are black ivy leaves on both sides of a wavy stem. Under each handle are enclosed palmettes, superposed tip to tip, surrounded by spirals, two horizontal palmette fans and side scrolls. Under the root of each handle is a small enclosed hanging palmette.

The volute krater was a large serving vessel used to mix wine and water at a symposium or drinking party. Large symposium vessels like this one began to be produced in the Greek colonies in Italy in the late 400s B.C. Before this time, the colonists had simply imported their fine pottery from Athens, but at this time local painted pottery workshops emerged. Proportionally few vases made in Lucania, the "toe" of Italy, have survived.


Medusa Gemito 1676


Medusa Gemito 3915

Medusa, Vincenzo Gemito, Italian, Naples, 1911, parcel-gilt silver.

Vincenzo Gemito created this gilt silver Medusa based upon an ancient cameo bowl called the Tazza Farnese in Naples (his native city), which dates from the Hellenistic period (2nd century BC). The antiquity is made of agate, incised on both sides, with eight figures in an allegorical scene on its concave upper side and the head of Medusa which inspired Gemito's work on the convex lower side. Gemito reversed the relationship between concave and convex. The head of the Gorgon Medusa stares out from the concave side of a two-sided relief, which has a snakeskin rendered as if stretched across the convex side. Gemito rendered Medusa with a  shocked look on her face as her naturalistic wavy hair is being encroached upon by the serpents.


Sauceboat on Stand Cheret 4003


Sugar Casters Lamerie 3812

Sauceboat on Stand, Jean-Baptiste-François Chéret, French, Paris, 1762-1768, silver and gilt silver.

The olive branches and grape vines that decorate the stand for this sauceboat suggest it was originally intended to hold oil and vinegar. The handled "boat" can be removed from the stand for serving or washing.

In the 1700s, meals were served according to strict ritual, known as service à la française. The first course was already laid out on the table when the diners were seated. The dishes remained in their respective places on the table throughout the meal, while the guests served themselves from the choice of dishes within their reach. At least one servant attended each diner, going round the table to collect food from the various dishes. This practice required numerous plates and serving dishes. The new culinary trend for soups, stews, and dishes with sauces also increased demand for specialized vessels such as this sauceboat.

Pair of Sugar Castors (Casters), Paul de Lamerie, British, London, 1730, silver gilt

From the 1660s, cylindrical casters with decoratively pierced covers became popular for sugar and aromatic spices. These casters would have held powdered sugar to be sprinkled over the food at table. Sugar was a relatively rare and therefore expensive commodity until the beginning of the 1700s, when trade with the West Indies, with its large sugar cane plantations, increased its availability. These casters were purchased by J. Paul Getty from the Dukes of Northumberland in 1938.

Notches on the sides of these casters indicate that they fitted into a surtout, an assemblage for condiments that formed part of an elaborate silver-gilt table service outfitted with numerous matching plates, serving dishes, and tureens. The casters are engraved with the crest of the prominent Howard family and the arms of the Order of the Garter.


Bust della Robbia 1811

Bust of a Man, Girolamo della Robbia, Italian,
France, 1526-1535, tin-glazed terracotta.

From the Château d'Assier in Figeac in southern France.


Bust della Robbia 1817

This bust depicts a bearded man with Roman style armor and drapery, looking up from beneath his brow. The entire front surface of the bust is covered by a white glaze except the pupils, which are painted black. Girolamo della Robbia, an Italian sculptor and ceramist, designed the series of elegant yet stern exemplars of Roman and Gallic heroes for the Château d'Assier, the residence of Jacques Galiot Ricard de Gourdon de Genoillac, Grand Master of the Artillery and Grand Squire of France under King François I, one of the King's important military leaders. The Italianate style of the series, seen for example in the bust format and the Roman costume, demonstrates strong ties to Classical antiquity. This revival was explicitly encouraged by the King, who was responsible for initiating the French Renaissance, bringing Italian artists to France, including Leonardo da Vinci, Girolamo della Robbia and others. This was originally part of a series of busts in 3/4 relief, set within wreathed medallions on the flat gray walls of the courtyard of the Château d'Assier.

Girolamo della Robbia, (1488-1566) was the youngest son of Andrea della Robbia, and together with his brothers Giovanni and  Luca di Andrea (Luca the Younger) was among the most active collaborators in the family ceramics workshop and the only son of Andrea to continue the reputation of the families terracotta works beyond the mid-16th century. Born and trained in Florence, in 1517 he moved to France to work in the court of Francis I. He was the third generation in the famous Renaissance ceramics family of Luca della Robbia, who pioneered glazed terracotta for sculpture when he developed a pottery glaze that made his creations more durable in the outdoors and thus suitable for use on the exterior of buildings. Preceding the arrival in France of other Florentine artists recruited by the King (such as Andrea del Sarto, Giovanni Battista di Jacopo (Rosso Fiorentino,  the Red Florentine aka Il Rosso) and Benvenuto Cellini), Girolamo della Robbia was a pioneer in spreading the influence of the Italian style as well as establishing a more international reputation for the della Robbia art.

The painted doors and panels and gilt plaster reliefs over the doors in this room are from the main reception room of the Paris residence of Jean-Baptiste Hosten, a wealthy planter from Santo Domingo, who commissioned Claude-Nicholas Ledoux to build Maison Hosten beginning in 1790.

Maison Hosten was supposed to be the focus of a larger housing scheme, surrounded by other townhouses which were to be built on speculation. When Hosten was forced to flee France during the French Revolution only six townhouses had been completed. The paneling in this room was removed at the end of the 1800s when the house was demolished.

Claude-Nicolas Ledoux employed some of the most celebrated painters and sculptors of his time to create the decor in this room. The hand-painted panels are decorated in the grotesque style, with arabesques and winged centaurs, palmettes and sphinxes, and exhibit some of the finest decorative work of the late 1700s.

The word ‘grotesque’ derives from the Latin word for cave. At the end of the 15th century, a fellow fell into what he thought was a cave on the Aventine Hill, actually the ruins of Nero's Domus Aurea (Golden House). Nero had appropriated a huge area in the heart of Rome after the Great Fire of 64 AD had cleared the Esquiline Hill of the houses of the aristocrats.

Nero’s party house was covered with precious stones and ivory, the first ceiling mosaics, and the walls were frescoed (by an artist named ‘Fabulus’) with “fabulous” creations, which were applied very rapidly over a wide area by his team of artists. After the discovery, Raphael, Pinturicchio and Michelangelo were lowered into the cave on ropes to see the work, and a new art form was born when Raphael immediately applied the concept to his work in the Vatican loggias.


Salon Maison Hosten Ledoux 3977


Salon Maison Hosten Ledoux 3982

Paneled Room, design: Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, French, architect for Maison Hosten, Paris, 1795,
Painted panels: Jean-Siméon Rousseau de la Rottière, Jules-Hughes Rousseau, painted and gilded oak,
 painted and gilded plaster overdoors, white marble mantelpiece, modern gilt bronze hardware and mirror glass,

Console Table, attrib. to Pierre Deumier, design by Victor Louis and Jean-Louis Prieur, French, Paris,
c. 1765-1770, silvered bronze, gilt bronze, bleu turquin marble top, modern marbleized wood base,
Curiosity Cabinet Object, François Barreau, French, Paris, c. 1800, thuya wood and turned ivory.

The elaborate Neoclassical paneling first entered American hands after the demolition of Maison Hosten in the late 1900s. The Neoclassical movement was born out of the rediscovery of ancient Pompeii  and Herculaneum, whose excavations in the mid- to late-1700s were unearthing a spectacular look at 1st century AD Roman culture and reawakening an interest in the Classical.

The original hardware from the doors in the room were missing. Photoshop was used to extract information from an 1890 photograph depicting the original hardware, drawings were made based on known dimensions of existing panels, and modern reproductions of the hardware inspired by ancient Classical images were created and installed.


Salon Maison Hosten Ledoux HS4911

In a glass case over the white marble fireplace is a Mantel Clock, whose design is attributed to Jean-Guillaume Moitte (sculptor) and clock case is attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire, metalworker (French, Paris, c. 1785; of gilt and patinated bronze, enameled metal, vert Maurin des Alpes marble, white marble). On a white marble base, two Vestal Virgins tend a flame that honors the goddess of the hearth, Vesta. A drawing still exists that shows the clock was designed to sit on a mantelpiece, its classical theme a suitable reference to the fireplace below. The altar that houses the clock's movement is fitted with horizontal enameled and jeweled hour and minute rings, while a sacrificial procession underneath is shown in gilt bronze. A branch of roses draped over the edge of the altar points to the time.

The elaborately painted grotesque panels by Jean-Siméon Rousseau de la Rottière and Jules-Hughes Rousseau were inspired by the new discoveries at Pompeii and Herculaneum, and recall the work of Raphael Sanzio as ornaments in the Vatican Loggia as well as some of the work of Marco Marchetti in the Medici Apartments in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, and Pinturrichio's work in the Piccolomini Library in the Cathedral of Siena.


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