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An example of a clock in the shape of a figure, a popular style of mantelpiece clock in the 2nd half of the 18th century. It depicts Apollo with a lyre and a laurel wreath on his head, sitting on the top of an obelisk containing the mechanism of an anchor escapement and a mainspring.

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An example of a clock in the shape of a figure, a popular style of mantelpiece clock in the 2nd half of the 18th century. It depicts Apollo with a lyre and a laurel wreath on his head, sitting on the top of an obelisk containing the mechanism of an anchor escapement and a mainspring. God is presented as a patron of music, art and science, which is indicated by attributes placed around the obelisk – musical instruments, notes, and a plaque with personifications of sculpture, painting, astronomy, and mathematical sciences. Flames of lamps placed on a tripod in the corner of the pedestal symbolize enlightenment through knowledge. Apollo's depiction as the vanquisher of Python, which can be seen on the plaque under the dial of the clock, symbolizes his power over the Oracle at Delphi. Shown together, Apollo with a lyre and with a bow, a quiver, and arrows indicates the duality of his nature; gentleness and kindness are juxtaposed with anger and punishment.
The figure of Apollo often adorned clock cases from the mid-18th century, most often in the form of Apollo's chariot modelled on the fountain sculpture of the Versailles gardens. Works created later, at the end of the 18th and at the beginning of the 19th centuries, showed Apollo as a god equated to Helios, travelling across the sky in a chariot harnessed with horses or swans, setting sunrises and sunsets. As the patron of art, he was most often depicted with a lyre. The myth of the god symbolizing moderation and harmony which conquer chaos of the world corresponded with the imperial ideology of the Empire.

Elaborated by Stanisława Link-Lenczowska (Wawel Royal Castle), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved

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Mantelpiece clock with a figure of Apollo

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