“THETIS” GILT BRONZE MANTEL CLOCK BY PIERRE EUGENE EMILE HEBERT (FRENCH, 1828-1893)
Movement, clock and sculpture by Georges Emile Henri Servant, marked G S MEDAILLE D’OR 1867, figure signed E. Hebert
Item # 808PTP24E
An exceptional presentation piece depicting the Greek goddess Thetis, the figure is executed by Pierre Emile Hébert in collaboration with the bronze fondeur Georges Emile Henri Servant. The two artists collaborated on several works in the Egyptian Revival and Neo-Greco taste, including Hébert’s well known sculpture of Rameses and Isis; they produced several figural clocks together as well as stand alone sculptures. The present example depicts Thetis in a traditional himation with her foot raised over a helmet while she tightens the straps on her armor; beside her is a large shield decorated with raised-relief figures of war as she leans against a large anvil. In its summary of Hébert, the National Gallery of Art notes that “Hébret often adjusted his style to historical subject: severe neo-Greek handling in his Thetis, Oracle, and Oedipus and the Sphinx; and stylized and rigid neo-Egyptian handling in his busts of Rameses and Isis. Some of his most intriguing work is in this historicizing mode, which provides especially useful insights into nineteenth-century French orientalism.” As winner of the gold medallion of 1867, Georges Servant was highly regarded as an exceptional talent and the present example of his work shows a great deal of pride and attention to detail - crisp chiseling of the figure with sharp eyelids and fingernails, precise signatures and smooth flowing garments are a fine match to the gilt bronze masks that raise columns on either bevelled corner of the clock beneath a stepped and faceted crest. Bound branches with leaves and berries project from either side of the clock and the whole is raised over outward splayed feet with chiseled anthemions and incised foliage. The dial is characterized by spear-point hour and minute hands, the chapter ring with black ink Roman numerals around a recessed-lobe interior over which the faint lettering reads “Medaille D’Or 1867” and the bottom reads “Servant Paris”. The movement is also stamped GS Medaille D’Or 1867 and is marked 950 to match the pendulum. It is an incredibly powerful statement piece.
Pierre-Eugéne-Emile Hebert was born in Paris in 1828 and studied under his father, a well regarded sculptor Pierre Hebert, and under Jean-Jacques Feuchére. At the age of 18 he debuted at Salon, where he continued to exhibit almost every year continuously until his death in 1893, also completing some commissioned public works. He is particularly known for “Comedy and Drama”, stone groups at the Théatre du Vaudeville and his group “The Oracle” (now at the museum in Vienna). His works are held in museums and institutions throughout the United States and Great Britain. Georges Servant exhibited extensively, including at the 1855 Paris Exhibition and the 1862 and 1867 London Exhibitions where he won the gold medallion referenced in the markings of his work. In 2001, Christie's sold a collaboration clock between Servant and Hébert in the Egyptian taste for £22,325 (London, February 7 2001, lot 123).
Literature and References:
Bronzes: Sculptors and Founders 1800-1930, Vol. IV, Berman, p. 1059, f. 4186 - present figure noted as “Thetis - Olympian” at 14 1/2” H and cast by Georges Servant
"E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Vol VI", Gründ, p. 1290
"Bronzes of the Nineteenth Century, Dictionary of Artists", Kjellberg, p. 376
“The Romantics to Rodin, French Nineteenth Century Sculpture”, Fusco & Janson, 1980, p. 294-95
“Dictionnaire des Sculpteurs de l’Ecole Francaise”, Lami, 1914-21, p. 91-93
Measurements: 13 1/4” W x 8 1/2” D x 24 1/4” H [clock and figure]; 14 7/8” H x 6” W x 4 3/4” D [figure]
Condition Report: Trace verdigris oxidization in crevices. Dial with fading to Roman numerals and inscription. Retains original pendulum (marked 950 on pendulum and reverse of movement). Movement is complete, but is presently not functioning and will have to be serviced upon receipt to keep accurate time.