A magnificent Empire gilt and patinated bronze and vert de mer marble mantel clock of eight day duration with case representing Jason and the Golden Fleece attributed to Pierre-François Feuchère. The gilt bronze dial with Roman numerals centred by the figures of Mars and Diana with a pair of blued steel Breguet style hands for the hours and minutes. The movement with anchor escapement, silk thread suspension, striking on the hour and half hour on a single bell, with outside count wheel. The case with clock drum mounted at the base of a tree on which hangs the Golden Fleece which Jason, wearing helmet, tunic and sandals, reaches over to secure, the hero standing on a monster that he has just killed with the dagger still held in his hand, the monster partly covered by a cloth falling from around the clock drum, the whole on a rectangular vert de mer marble base on gilt lion paw feet
Paris, date circa 1810
Height 62 cm, width 42 cm, depth 22 cm.
An identical clock by the Parisian bronzier Pierre-François Feuchère (1737-1823) is in the Musée de Malmaison, while another in the Palacio Real in Madrid was supplied to the Spanish royal family. The clock was described in the Journal des dames et des modes 25th August 1819 as 'Au total l'ouvrage est de bon gout et c'est un superbe meuble de salon.' Interestingly a sale of the Feuchère firm, held 29th January 1829 (lot 73) described a 'pendule de Jason enlevant la Toison, dorée et au vert avec cage et mouvement' which most probably refers to this model. Like Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843), Pierre-François Feuchère established one of the largest and most prestigious workshops for the production of luxurious gilt bronzes during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century and as such supplied pieces through the Garde-Meuble to Louis XVI's court and then to Napoleon and his family as well as members from the German, Russian, and Spanish courts. Received as a maître ciseleur-doreur in 1763, in 1784 he was joined by his own son Lucien-François (fl. 1784-1824), who subsequently became a director of the business and working alongside his father at their Paris workshop at rue Notre Dame de Nazareth help propel the business to rival the very best.In 1807 the local governor described Feuchère's business as one of the most important in Paris and bestowed upon it a grant of 100,000 francs.
The clock portrays Jason, one of the most famous Greek heroes, as the very point he is taking the Golden Fleece, the skin of a magical ram, from a tree branch. According to mythology Jason was the son of Aeson, King of Iolcus in Thessaly until the latter's half brother Pelias dethroned him; thereafter Jason was cared for and educated by the centaur Chiron. In adulthood Jason returned to Iolcus to claim his father's heritage and his rightful kingdom. Pelias agreed to his demands in exchange for the Golden Fleece which was then in the possession of King Aeëtes of Colchis on the Black Sea. After sailing on the Argo with his Argonauts Jason landed at Colchis where, with the help of Medea (whom he later married) he overcame many obstacles, one of which was to slay a monster that guarded the Fleece (seen here at the hero's feet). Over the years the story inspired many artists, including the Neo-classical sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, whose marble statue of Jason with the Golden Fleece (1803) is now in the Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen.