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Mantel Garniture

On view

Mantel Garniture

Maker: Maker unknown (France)

Retailer: Tiffany & Company (active New York, New York, 1837-present)

Date: 1875-1885
Medium: Slate, marble, bronze, brass, wood, and glass
Dimensions:
Clock: 18-1/2 x 21 x 7-3/4 in.
Obelisks: 20-1/2 x 7-3/4 x 5-1/8 in.
Markings: "Tiffany & Co. / New York 2396" on back plate of movement
Inscribed: scratched inside door to movement "179"
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 2000.21.1-4
Label Text
In the period after the Civil War, clock mantel garnitures became increasingly complex. This garniture, with its liberally adorned, freely stylized Egyptian motifs-a sphinx, winged orbs, and faux hieroglyphs flanked by obelisks-would have graced a formal room. Clocks such as this were largely produced in Paris and sold to wealthy Americans by firms such as Tiffany & Company.

Throughout the nineteenth century, decorative arts expressed the Western world's fascination with Egyptian archaeology. However, this garniture represents a popular rather than an archaeological interest in Egyptian art. The design may have been specifically inspired by the obelisk of Alexandria, which the Egyptian government gave to New York City in 1881. Installed in Central Park, Cleopatra's Needle fueled an interest in Egyptian art that had blossomed earlier in the nineteenth century after Napoleon's Egypt campaign.