Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843) began his career as a sculptor but decided to follow in his father’s footsteps as bronze founder, and in time became one of the most well known of his generation. He worked at Pierre Gouthière for a time and benefited greatly from his years of apprenticeship with this well known bronze founder, but when he thought he had gained enough experience he opened his own workshop.
However, Thomire did not have his major breakthrough until he started to collaborate with Jean-Claude-Thomas Duplessis, the artistic director of the Sèvres porcelain manufactory. When Duplessis died in 1783, Thomire took over his post, thus becoming responsible for all gilt bronze decorations used in the manufactory’s production. During the French Revolution, Thomire was fully occupied by his many responsibilities at the manufactory, whilst many others were forced into bankruptcy.
In 1809, Thomire was commissioned to supply a number of exquisite bronzes to Napoleon’s palaces, and was subsequently appointed to the position of “Ciseleur de l'Empereur”. Moreover, a few years later his workshop was described as “Fournisseur de leurs Majestés”. Thomire’s workshop survived the fall of Napoleon, and he continued to win medals and honours at the famous Parisian exhibitions. He finally retired at the age of 72, but continued to sculpt and even exhibit at the Salon until late in his eighties.
The auction will offer two works by Thomire, of which one is a French Gueridon similar to one which was sold in October 2003 at Sotheby’s in Paris. Yet another remarkable lot is a mantle clock in gilt and patinated bronze by Thomire, where the actual mechanism was made by Louis Moinet (1768-1853), who for a time worked together with the famous Breguet clockmaker family. On the clock is a woman playing the lyre - Erato, the muse of Greek mythology. The Muses were the daughters of Zeus and the Titan Mnemosyne. Each of the muses possessed a certain knowledge or represented a certain profession. Erato was the muse of love poetry, and she was typically depicted, as on this mantle clock, with a stringed instrument in her hands. Similar mantle clocks were delivered to the Emperor Napoleon in 1807.
Elke Neihüser: French Bronze Clocks, 1700-1830 (1999).
Hans Ottomeyer/Peter Pröschel: Vergoldete Bronzen (1988).