Mantel clock with a priestess and Cupid offering a sacriffice to Venus

Accession Number

Mantel clock with a priestess and Cupid offering a sacriffice to Venus

Joseph Buzot

Object Creation Date
circa 1780

Medium & Support
gilded bronze, ebony, porcelain, and glass

16 15/16 in. x 11 5/8 in. x 5 3/16 in. ( 43 cm x 29.5 cm x 13.2 cm )

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by the W. Hawkins Ferry Fund

Label copy
March 28, 2009
This lavish mantel clock is surmounted by a scene of ritual sacrifice cast in gilded bronze. A priestess in long, flowing robes stands to one side of the clock dial and holds a small dish in her left hand from which she pours oil to anoint a sacrificial dove held by Cupid. Between them sits on a small altar inscribed “Altar of Venus” on which blazes a fire for immolating the dove. The elaborately sculptural character of this scene and the fine materials reveal this clock to have been made for a member of the French aristocracy in pre-Revolutionary France.
The clock was produced by the master clockmaker Joseph Buzot, whose father and brother specialized in the making of springs for the many watch- and clockmakers active in Paris. Joseph manufactured the movement of this clock and signed the dial, but he subcontracted the work for the ebony base and bronze figures, a practice typical for the period.

Subject matter
This lavishly embellished mantel clock is surmounted by a scene of a priestess and Cupid anointing a dove as a sacrificial fire burns on an altar between them. The clock was a collaborative work produced by Joseph Buzot, who manufactured the movement and signed the dial, but who subcontracted work for the base and the figures, a practice typical for the period.

Physical Description
The dial of this elaborately decorated clock stands upon a two-tiered base. The lower tier consists of a hollow base made of ebony and adorned with a frieze of gilded bronze scrollwork and palmette motifs. The upper tier, made entirely of gilded bronze, features six fluted pilasters with a decorative panel centered on the front below the dial. This panel is composed of a pair of doves touching beaks before a crossed quiver of arrows and a flaming torch framed by leaves. A woman in long flowing robes stands to the right of the dial and empties a small cup onto a dove held by a winged putto who lies on a rocky projection. Behind the dove burns a fire on a small altar inscribed "Altar of Venus" [Autel à Venus].

Primary Object Classification
Decorative Arts

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area

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Louis XVI
bronzes (visual works)
doves (Columbidae)
gilding (technique)
putti (motifs)

6 Related Resources

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& Author Notes

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