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Between and Mortarboard


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

Accession Number
2001/2.82

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

Artist(s)
Joseph Buzot

Object Creation Date
circa 1780

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

Dimensions
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
clock

Additional Object Classification(s)
Sculpture

Collection Area
Western

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Louis XVI
altars
bronzes (visual works)
clocks
doves (Columbidae)
gilding (technique)
pilasters
putti (motifs)
sacrifices

6 Related Resources

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(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
Greco-Roman Mythology
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Greek Cultural Influence
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Human Sacrifice
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
Early Modern European Court Life
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)
Glamorous
(Part of: Interior Design Quiz)

& Author Notes

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