Log in

An important late 18th century ”Pendule Portique” table clock

Hammered at SEK 300.000 at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale Week 16-18 June 2020

Lot 203. An important late 18th century ”Pendule Portique” table clock Neoclassical, late 18th century. Probably made at the Imperial Arms Factory in Tula. Steel and ormolu case composed of four columns draped with floral ribbons, ormolu capitals set with so called ”Steel diamonds” each holding an urn. Ormolu clock case with laurel-wreath and on top a classical lidded urn. Base with beaded and kymation frieze, fleurons, rhomboid balustrade and floral pattern on four baluster-shaped feet. White enamel face with Roman and Arabic numerals for hours, minutes and seconds. Quarter-stroke. Length 33, Width 14, Height 52 cm.


300.000 – 400.000 SEK
€ 28.000 – 38.000


Acquired by the present owner at a private estate sale, Long Island, New York.


Hubertus Gaßner (Editor), Krieg und Frieden: eine deutsche Zarin in Schloss Pawlowsk, Haus der Kunst München, Dölling und Galitz, 2001 compare with floral pattern frieze on front of Katharina II:s toilet table p. 342, cat. no. 213‑216.
Arcadi Gaydamak, Russian Empire, Trefoil Press, Moscow-Paris, 2000, compare beaded frieze and “Steel Diamond” decoration on a pair of candlesticks in the collection of the State History Museum, Moscow, p. 88.
Arcadi Gaydamak, Russian Empire, Trefoil Press, Moscow-Paris, 2000, compare with a probable steel case clock in the enfilade in the estate of Pavel Zolotaryov, Kaluga, p. 157.
Anatoly Kuchumov, Russian decorative art in the collection of the Pavlovsk Palace museum. Leningrad: Chudoz?nik; 1981. Compare the “Steel diamond” decoration on a Tula made table from 1801 in the Pavlovsk Palace collection, p. 282.
Anatoly Kuchumov, Russian decorative art in the collection of the Pavlovsk Palace museum. Leningrad: 1981. Compare the beaded frieze on a Tula made toilet from 1787 Pavlovsk Palace collection, p. 281.
M. Malchenko, Art Objects in Steel by Tula Craftsmen, Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad 1974, compare with the kymation frieze on a late 18th century casket, p. 51-54.
Igor Sychev, The Russian Chandeliers 1760-1830, St. Petersburg 2003, compare with similar urn shaped brass finials and fleuron on a Tula made candlestick, p. 85.

In context

Imperial Arms Factory – Tula

The ancient city of Tula is located two hundred kilometres south from Moscow along the banks of the Upa River. It has long been known as the most prominent city of metallurgic works in Russia. The history of Tula steelmaking started in 1595 when the first thirty families of armourers where relocated from Moscow by a decree from the Tsar. The idea was to locate the production to an area with rich iron deposits and unlimited access to wood.

After the Treaty of Nystad 1721 and the end of the Great Northern War, a time of reforms and prosperity was at hand in the Russian Empire. Whilst not having to focus solely on producing weapons for the ongoing wars, the Imperial Arms Factory could also focus on more luxurious products for the growing and modernized Russian Empire, now demanding lavish items for Russian envoys and guests. Under the rule of Catherine the Great the factory came to flourish. The empress had a genuine interest in the Russian artistic industry and visited the factory on a couple of occasions.  She acquired and was also presented several important works both for herself and for the people accompanying her.

The prosperity of the Russian nobility in the 18th century also led to a demand from the private market and the rise of independent craftsmanship at the Tula factories, which was no longer solely bound to orders made by the Crown.  One of the great patrons of the factory was Queen Catherine’s favorite Count, Generalfeldmarschall and statesman Grigory Potemkin, who showed great interest in the production and development of the Tula factory. His collection is noted in the memoirs of the French diplomat, Chevalier de Corberon who stated, ”We dined with Count Potemkin. He showed us works in steel from Tula, of great beauty for the steely blue, the gilding and the fine ornament”.

To become a Master at the Tula factories the apprentice had to endure 7-15 years of learning before eventually having the possibility to present his masterpiece. This resembled the organization and tradition of a city based guild. Particularly skilled masters on occasion also had the possibility to travel in Europe to further deepen their skills. The late 18th century and early 19th century represents the pinnacle for the artistic steelmaking of the armourers in Tula.  The created objects were often made of various metals and lent some of their design from imported French luxury objects but were executed in a certain distinctive fashion. Typical for the Tula production of artistic objects is the use of  ”Steel diamonds” as seen in the ormolu capitals of the clock in this sale. The facets of the steal beads were to simulate the reflection of a precious stone and was used on a range of different types of objects. It was also required for an aspiring master to handle the technique of making and using steel diamonds on their objects.

The clock offered in the current sale has a range of different character traits typical for an object from the Imperial Arms Factory of Tula. These decorative pieces can be found in various objects in Museum collections in Russia and the rest of the world.  The design of the ”Pendule Portique” type is typically French and it could probably have been made after an imported French clock.

Back to catalogue »


Magnus Bexhed


Phone: +46 (0)705-22 12 04

Karl-Magnus Törnros


Classic Furniture, Applied Arts & Silver
Phone: +46 (0)720-77 82 30

Mer information