Elke Niehüser, "Die Französische Bronzeuhr", 1997, p. 239, pl. 833, illustrating a gilt and patinated bronze clock case of the same model but lacking the dromedary's headdress and the star and moon above its hump.
An extremely fine Empire gilt bronze pendule 'au dromadaire' of eight day duration by the celebrated clockmaker Basile-Charles Le Roy, signed on the white enamel dial Le Roy hr de Madame à Paris, the dial with Roman and Arabic numerals and a fine pair of pierced gilt brass hands for the hours and minutes. The movement with anchor escapement, silk thread suspension, striking on the hour and half hour, with outside count wheel. The superb and unusual case formed as a standing dromedary on whose hump is placed a stand surmounted by a crescent moon enclosing a star, the stand set upon a tasselled drapery swag that encircles the clock dial set within the main part of the animal's body, the dromedary with a bell hanging from its neck and a plumed headdress, standing above a tree stump on a stepped rectangular plinth with rounded ends, with elaborate frieze mounts comprising a pair of star and crescent moons flanking military trophies, supported on turned feet
Paris, date circa 1810
Height 38 cm, length 30 cm, depth 10 cm.
Pendules 'au dromadaire' are extremely rare, the first of which were made in France during the early eighteenth century. The fascination with animals from faraway lands had been fuelled after the ambassador for the King of Siam gave an elephant, lion, tiger, camel and other zoological phenomena as a gift to Louis XIV in 1686. This inspired a number of bronziers to create clock cases featuring such exotic animals. While those with elephants or rhinoceroses were more common, those with camels or dromedaries were far more unusual. Interest in the latter once more came to the fore during the early years of the nineteenth century when artists, inspired by Napoleon's Egyptian campaigns, began incorporating Egyptian motifs and decorations within their designs. Since the present clock features the crescent moon and star, the ancient Turkish celestial symbol of power, it is possible that it was intended for the Turkish export market, which of course adds to its interest.
The clock not only has a magnificent case but its movement was made by one of the leading makers of the day, namely Basile (also known as Bazile)-Charles Le Roy (1765-1839). Born in Paris, the son of the clockmaker Bazile Le Roy (1731-1804) and received as a maître in 1788, he founded the esteemed House of Le Roy at 60 Galerie de Pierre, Palais-Royal shortly after 1785 when the duc d'Orléans (Philippe Egalité) opened up the Palais-Royal gardens to the public and its buildings to the trade. This enabled Le Roy and a number of other clockmakers to set up shop in the arcade galleries. During the Revolution Le Roy worked for the Republic signing his clocks 'Elyor' so as to disassociate himself with any former royal connections. Afterwards he moved his business to Galerie Montpensier, 13-15 Palais-Royal, where the concern was to remain for almost a hundred years. The following years saw Le Roy's appointment as clockmaker to Emperor Napoleon and to the latter's mother Madame Mère, which he proudly announced on the present main dial: hr de Madame. In addition Le Roy was appointed clockmaker to Princess Pauline and Jérôme Bonaparte King of Westphalia and later in 1829 royal clockmaker to the ducs de Bourbon and de Chartres. His house exhibited clocks at the Paris Exposition l'an VI (1797/8) and again in 1819, 1823 and 1827.
As an innovator Basile-Charles Le Roy took out a patent for one of his atmospheric clocks in 1823. In addition to this wonderful example, other clocks by him can be seen at the Musée du Louvre and the Ministère de la Guerre in Paris, Musée Paul Dupuy in Toulouse, the Musée International d'Horlogerie at La Chaux de-Fonds and the Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire in Brussels. When his son Charles-Louis (also known as Louis-Charles, 1794-1865/66) went into partnership with him in 1828 the business was renamed Le Roy et Fils. Charles-Louis proved equally successful in running the concern and in 1835 was appointed Horloger du Roi and Horloger du Ministère de la Marine.