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Ormolu Napoleonic Mantel Clock

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Ormolu Napoleonic Mantel Clock

- Item No.

Powerful symbolism and sophisticated design inform this rare Napoleonic clock

Key Features

  • This outstanding Empire mantel clock commemorates the return of Napoleon's remains to France
  • The gilt bronze masterpiece is laden with Napoleonic symbols
  • The dates of the emperor's death and final homecoming are placed on the flag and funerary urn
  • Set upon a marble-topped base, this clock is almost certainly one of a kind

Item Details

  • Width:
    21; B: 26 1/4 Inches
  • Height:
    29 3/4; B: 4 1/4 Inches
  • Depth:
    7 1/4 B: 12 7/8 Inches
  • Period:
  • Origin:
This magnificent gilt bronze clock was created to commemorate one of France's most important events, the return of Napoleon Bonaparte's remains to France. It is a tour-de-force of design and almost certainly unique. This clock was commissioned for the return of the Emperor for his burial in 1840, and although we do not know where it was displayed or by whom, its superior quality shows it was a highly important commission.

The clock is full of symbolism, from the French flag with the date 1840 on it (the date Napoleon's remains were finally released by the British and returned to Paris), and the figure of Mother France holding an urn marked "May 5th, 1821" (the date of the emperor's death), to the detailed relief showing the ship leaving St. Helene and coming to Paris. Symbols of the emperor and his reign lend gravity to the piece, from the powerful imperial eagle and cannons to the uniforms of the Imperial Guard at the corners. Below, a lion guards a sepulcher of Napoleon's personal bicorn and sword, while feet comprised of bees, laurel, trumpets and palms emphasize the emperor's exalted position in the minds and hearts of his supporters.

Having been imprisoned and exiled on St. Helena by the British following the Hundred Days and his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon died on this island of stomach cancer at the age of 51. His death was met, on St. Helena and in France, by an outpouring of emotion. In a codicil to his will, he had expressed a desire to be buried on the banks of the Seine in Paris, but this wish was denied by both the British government, and by King Louis XVIII, who believed the return of the remains would inspire civil unrest. In 1840, King Louis-Philippe eventually obtained permission from the British for the return of Napoleon's remains to France. The remains were transported, in six coffins weighing a total of 1,200 kilograms, in the French frigate Belle-Poule, under the command of the king's third son, the Prince de Joinville. The French actually painted the entire ship black to mark the solemnity of the occasion. His remains arrived in France on November 29th and the largest state funeral in France's history was held for him on December 15th, 1840. This one of a kind clock was made for this event. 

Circa 1840

21" wide x 7 1/4" deep x 29 3/4" high
Base: 26 1/4" wide x 12 7/8" deep x 4 1/4" high


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Price: $124,500
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