A rare Empire patinated and gilt bronze and porcelain commemorative clock. The gilt bronze shield-shaped dial with Roman numerals and blued steel hands. The original movement with silk thread suspension. The case with dial surrounded by numerous cast patinated bronze armorial motifs above a gilt bronze framed porcelain plaque portraying Lieutenant-Général Maximilien-Stanislas Foy, député de l'Aisne (1775-1825), the frame flanked on either side by winged Victories above a rectangular plinth ornamented with armorial motifs and medallion portraits above a stepped base with acanthus border on rectangular feet
Paris, dated 1826
Height 69.5 cm, width 46.5 cm, depth 16.5 cm.
This rare clock shows a portrait of the esteemed French Lieutenant-Général Maximilien-Stanislas Foy, député de l'Aisne (1775-1825). Foy began his military career fighting at the Battle of Jemmapes at the age of 16. He served under Dampierre, Jourdan, Pichegru and Houchard and then in the army of Moreau during the campaigns of 1796 and 1797 and was recommended by Général Napoleon Bonaparte. After the campaigns of 1805 and 1806 he was appointed envoy to Sultan Sélim as officer of artillery in Constantinople, Portugal and Spain and distinguished himself at the Battle of Waterloo. After his return to civilian life he was appointed to the chambre des députés par l'Aisne, 1819. He gained great renown for his passionate speeches defending personal liberty and freedom of the press. Such was his following that on the news of his death and funeral two days later, 30th November 1825, demonstrations broke out in the streets of Paris. A subscription was raised to support his family, among the principal subscribers were Casimir Pérrier, Laffitte and Louis-Philippe d'Orléans.
Foy's death inspired a diffusion of prints, engravings and lithographs made after his portrait by Horace Vernet (1789-1863). His portrait by Pierre Roch Vigneron (1789-1872) of 1825 was also popularized by the engravings by Engelmann and inspired a range of commemorative objects, of which this clock and another in the Musée de Louvre, Paris are prime examples. Both this and the Louvre example pay tribute to the hero. The shield shaped dial and various weapons of war symbolize his various military campaigns, while his portrait shows him as an orator, defending the rights of freedom. This clock differs in certain respects with that in the Louvre; the latter has a plaque inscribed "discours sur la liberté de la Presse" and while both were inspired by Vigneron's portrait, different hands executed the plaques. The example here is initialed 'J'; it has been suggested that this initial refers to the porcelain painter, Marie-Victoire Jaquotot (1772-1855), but despite its superb quality, there is little evidence to support this attribution.
Paintings on porcelain, especially portraits of this date are very rare and are consequently highly prized. It was almost certainly painted by one of the Paris Porcelain factories and though its quality is on a par with pieces manufactured at Sèvres, no mention of a Général Foy appears in their records.