A very fine gilt and patinated bronze and red marble clock with case attributed to Gérard-Jean Galle. The round gilt bronze shield-form dial cast with Roman numerals within circular cartouches, is centred by a sunburst and surrounded by four classical maidens; the Breguet hands are in blued steel. The movement, of two-week duration, with anchor escapement and silk thread suspension, strikes the quarters on a single bell, with outside count wheel.
The case depicts the standing figure of Pallas Athena wearing a plumed helmet and laurel wreath, as well as a short tunic beneath a long cloak gathered at the shoulder. She holds a spear with caduceus in her right hand; her left hand brandishes the shield-shaped dial. The rectangular red marble plinth rests upon a gilt bronze base.
Paris, late Empire period, circa 1820
Height of figure: 70 cm; overall height 87 cm
The present case represents Pallas Athena, also known as Minerva who was one of the twelve Olympians deities. She was worshipped both as a goddess of wisdom as well as a goddess of war and protected many Greek cities, notably Athens, which bears her name. According to mythology she was the daughter of Jupiter and sprang fully armed from his head. A virgin goddess who refused to marry she was also a warrior-goddess and participated in the god's battle against the giants. Due to her conquests she is often associated with Victory and is almost always represented wearing a helmet and spear in hand.
The very fine case can be attributed to Gérard-Jean Galle (1788-1846) who executed a number of identical or near identical models. One was supplied to Stockholm Castle on June 12, 1823 while other examples of this imposing piece may be seen in the Schloss Ehrenburg at Coburg, the Spanish Royal Collection, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris.
Gérard-Jean Galle (1788-1846), who was the eldest son of the renowned bronzier, Claude Galle (1759-1815), took over the family business at rue Vivienne on his father's death and soon proved that he could maintain its excellent repute. Regarded as one of the best in Paris, he was patronised by an elite clientele including the duc de Richelieu, the marquis de Martel and viscount de la Rochefoucauld. Born at rue du Four, Paris, Gérard-Jean and his younger brother, Jean-Auguste (b. 1790) trained under their father but then joined the army after completing their apprenticeship. Gérard proved a brilliant soldier and was knighted in 1815. In 1810 Claude Galle requested from the Emperor his sons' leave of the army so that they could run the family business. In 1815 Napoleon was overthrown and Claude Galle died, leaving Gérard's stepmother in temporary charge until soon after Gérard-Jean returned home and took over the family business. In 1819 Gérard won a silver medal at the Exposition de 1'Industrie for an outstanding collection of bronzes consisting predominantly of light fittings and clock cases. The latter were supplied to some of the best Parisian clockmakers including Bourdier; Gérard-Jean Galle also specialized in making clocks with corresponding candelabra, of which at least two are at Stockholm Castle.
4 200 €