- Mantel clock
Étienne Maurice Falconet (1716 - 1791)
- c. 1775
- Gilt bronze, brass, enamel and steel
- Object size: 47 x 35.2 x 27.5 cm
- Inscription: '22 Jan / H. Hildersley' Scratched
Inscription: 'R……..A' Engraved
Inscription: 'S……..F' Engraved
- Three gilt-bronze figures represent the Toilet of Venus: the goddess sits at a three-legged table, holding a toilet mirror, while a handmaiden brings her roses. In front of the table, Cupid (identifiable from the bow on which he lies) indicates the time on the revolving dials of the clock, mounted around the table top. The mirror held in Venus’s hand and the box of ribbons by the side of Cupid help bring an intimacy to the scene, as does the slight disarray of the drapery covering Venus and the discarded cushion at her feet.
The morning ritual of the toilet ('toilette' in French) was practised by wealthy and aristocratic ladies (and gentlemen) in France throughout the eighteenth century, so this clock would have been highly recognisable as a mythical interpretation of the daily domestic ceremony. As such, it would have been appropriate for furnishing a bedroom or small 'cabinet' or boudoir, in which the toilet took place.
The design of the sculptural clock case has been attributed to Falconet on the basis of similarities to other works by him, although he may not have played any part in its execution. The names of the founder, chaser, gilder, enameller and clock-maker are unknown.