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Robert Osmond (c.1711-1789)

Mantel clock c.1750-60

Chased, gilt and patinated bronze | 68.0 x 44.0 x 22.5 cm (parts .a and .b together) | RCIN 30424

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  • A Louis XV mantel clock in the form of a bull supporting, on its back, the drum which is crowned by the figure representing Europa seated on fringed drapery - separating her from Jupiter, disguised as the bull. She holds a garland of flowers (convolvulus, roses, daisies) while her two companions are seated on the forecorners of the base, each up to catch the ends of the floral trail. The base, which is elaborately pierced and scrolled, rests on four splayed, flattened and rounded supports. All of chased and gilt bronze; the bull is of patinated bronze.

    The figures recount the episode in Ovid's Metamorphoses, in which Europea is abducted by Jupiter. Charmed by the bull's good nature and fine appearance, Europa hung garlands of flowers over its horns and climbed onto its back. She is carried out to sea by him, to the island of Crete, where he resumed his normal shape and raped her. While the 'Rape of Europa' was a popular subject for artists since antiquity, the sexual violence inherent, or alluded to, in some of the scenes depicted can now be unsettling to modern viewers.

    The bull is a reproduction of a model by Giovanni Bologna. The clock case is stamped with the name of Robert Osmand who was a bronzeur located in the rue Maclou in 1773. He worked with many highly regarded clockmakers in Paris including the Lepautes, Robert Robin and Charles Le Roy.

    Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy submitted a number of invoices for overhaul and repair of the clock and, finally, replaced the original movement in 1817 at a cost of £23 17s.

    Vulliamy number 631

    The clock can probably be identified as the 'Old fashioned French Clock with Bronze figure of a Cow and Or Molu Figures' which was received at Carlton House from 23 February 1811 by William Lamb, Viscount Melbourne. The error in identifying the animal was compounded in Benjamin Jutsham's later entries when he refers to 'The Clock with the Europa Cow'. It is likely that the gift also included a lacquered musical box. The clock and musical box were placed in the Dining Room of the Basement Floor at Carlton House and then, in 1826, they were sent to Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park. At some stage the clock was moved to the Royal Pavilion at Brighton. It was consigned to Windsor following Queen Victoria's decision to sell the Royal Pavilion in 1846. It is item in a 'List of Clocks, Shades Etc packed at the Pavilion Brighton 1846. Delivered by Mr. Tupper to Windsor Castle. 6 Jan 1847' and described as 'A Clock in an ormolu case on the back of a bronze Bull with ormolu Figures of Europa and attendants on a shaped painted pedestal'.

  • Medium and techniques

    Chased, gilt and patinated bronze


    68.0 x 44.0 x 22.5 cm (parts .a and .b together)

  • Alternative title(s)

    Rape of Europa Clock [historic title]