Mantel clock in urn form with lion heads

Case modelled by Robert Osmond
Paris, Louis XVI period, ca 1760

Bronze, cast, chased and fire-gilt
Stamped OSMOND, movement signed ‘Rey à Paris’
Hight 66 cm, width 30.5 cm, depth 25.5 cm


The plinth with its meander motif is almost square in plan. The cyma is decorated with an oak-leaf garland with foliage and acorns. The foot of the urn rises from a double plinth entwined with a laurel wreath; the concave wall of the urn is strigilated. Gadrooning and lanceolate foliage hold the body of the vase. The clock movement is contained in a cubic case that flares laterally. A frame of delicately chased laurel leaves contrasts in its circular form with the square of the case, accentuated by four roses at the corners. The sides are adorned with lion heads, their skins suspended on nails. In their mouths the lions hold a movable circular handle. A fir apple in an acanthus cauliculus forms the finial.
Clocks in the form of vases were one of the most influential innovations produced by the goût grec prevailing in the Louis XVI period and represented a type of clock previously unusual to say the least. The meander motif on the base, the laurel wreath and the lion heads with skins hung on nails are motifs borrowed from antiquity. The design is assured as Osmond’s by no. 42 in the Livre de dessins. It is the first design of its kind for a clock with a case in urn form. Numerous examples of the type are known and most are signed by Robert Osmond. An identical case, which Robert Osmond is supposed to have delivered to Ange Laurent Lalive de Jully’s study in 1757, is now in the Musée Condé in the Château de Chantilly near Paris. Another exemplar is in the Cleveland Museum in Ohio.

Robert (1711-1789) and his nephew, Jean-Baptiste Osmond, were both maîtres fondeurs and highly esteemed members of their guild. They were among the first to adopt the renewal movement, called either goût grec or goût à l’antique, which revived the Greco-Roman repertory of forms. In 1746 Robert Osmond was awarded the title of master and ran a studio in the rue des Canettes near Saint Sulpice. By 1761 he was in a position to move to the more elegant rue Macon. In 1766 he signed the important declaration made by the Paris maîtres fondeurs on their rights to their designs. In 1771, however, Osmond had to cease production. His œuvre includes bracket clocks, sconces, fire-dogs and inkstands.


Espée, Roland de, Die Osmond, ein Familienbetrieb und seine Produktion, in: Ottomeyer, Hans und Peter Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Munich 1986, pp. 539-547, fig. 3.1.2
Kjellberg, Pierre, Encyclopédie de la Pendule française du Moyen Age au XX Siècle, Paris 1997, pp. 212-213
Augarde, Jean-Dominique, Les ouvriers du temps, Paris 1996, illustration, p. 255

REF No. 439