Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    Hague (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1665-1670 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Breghtel, Hans Conraedt, born 1609 - died 1675 (designer and maker)
    van den Bergh, Adriaen (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver and silver-gilt, pierced, embossed, filigree

  • Credit Line:

    The Victoria and Albert Museum

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 6, The Lisa and Bernard Selz Gallery, case CA9

This elaborate clock was made in The Hague about 1665-1670. Inspired by classical architecture it provides an appropriate setting for the statuettes at cornice level which represent classical Roman deities and is surmounted by an allegorical statuette representing Old Father Time. The cupola is decorated with reliefs representing the signs of the zodiac; the plinth with scenes of the ages of man and of the seasons. On three of the sides are enamels representing a younger and older woman and a man in a turban. Beneath the front dial, two putti support an hour glass. The overall pierced, embossed and filigree silver decoration is enhanced by judicious use of gilding to emphasize the vertical element of the design; the half columns which frame each of the sides provide visual support for the gilded statuettes above.

The clock is signed by Hans Coenraet Breghtel, one of the leading goldsmiths working in The Hague in the mid 17th century. The signature on the movement 'Adriaen van den Bergh Fecit Hague' indicates that the clockmaker was from the same city. The Hague was the seat of the Statholders Court and the Republic's main decision-making body for the States General so its population was the wealthiest in the country. The clock was probably made as a showpiece to attract patronage from The Hague's wealthy citizens.

Physical description

The clock is in the form of a temple with a cupola surmounted by an allegorical figure representing Time. Beneath the pierced dome, twelve reliefs separated by pilasters represent the Signs of the Zodiac. The four sides are designed as triumphal arches flanked by Corinthian columns; the front and sides contain dials and the back has a door providing access to the movement. The spandrels to the arches are decorated in relief with mythological figures. Each corner is surmounted with standing figures of classical deities; Apollo; Venus and Cupid; Mercury, Janus, Saturn, Diana, Jupiter and Mars. The dial on the front of the clock has both an hour and a minute hand; the dials on the sides only show the hour. Under the front dial, an hour glass is decorated with enamelled foliage and supported by two gilded amorini in high relief, one carrying a sceptre; the other resting a knee on an upturned vase. Under the side dials and Breghtel's signature on the back are three enamels representing a young woman, turbanned man and older woman. The pedestal of the clock is embellished with a series of plaques representing the seasons in pastoral settings; the ages of man in domestic contexts and appropriate mythological scenes. The clock is mounted on four ball feet covered with acanthus foliage, each foot is on a shaped square moulded base.

The surface of the case is decorated with applied pierced embossed and filigree silver, partly gilt, representing scrolling foliage, swags of flowers, cornucopia and classical heads. The gilding is used to punctuate the overall decoration. The statuettes of Time and the Classical Deities are gilded as is the plinth on which Time stands, the half columns flanking each side of the case and the shaped moulded bases under the feet.

Place of Origin

Hague (made)


ca. 1665-1670 (made)


Breghtel, Hans Conraedt, born 1609 - died 1675 (designer and maker)
van den Bergh, Adriaen (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver and silver-gilt, pierced, embossed, filigree

Marks and inscriptions

Signed 'HC Breghtel Fecit Hagae' on the back; signed 'Adriaen van den Bergh Fecit Hagae' on the back of the movement.
The standing figures of classical deities on the corners of the clock represent the days of the week Diana-Monday; Mars-Tuesday; Mercury-Wednesday; Jupiter-Thursday; Venus-Friday; Saturn-Saturday; Apollo-Sunday.


Height: 91.6 cm, Width: 42.2 cm maximum, base, Width: 42.2 cm, Depth: 42.2 cm, Weight: 51.0 kg without pendulum

Object history note

Gemeentesmuseum Exhibition RF.2004/810
The clock was displayed by the maker in his workshop in The Hague, prior to his death; it was auctioned in Amsterdam in 1715.

Historical significance: This sumptuous clock epitomizes the arts and sciences. Its classically-inspired architectural design provides an appropriate setting for free-standing figures representing classical deities surmounted by a figure of Time. The reliefs of the Signs of the Zodiac around the base of the cupola, and scenes illustrating the Ages of Man and the Seasons around the plinth, are appropriate commentaries on the passage of time. The eight-day movement strikes the hours on a bell in the top of the cupola. Although the movement was not particularly significant, the elaborate decorative scheme and the clock's hourly bell would have proclaimed its significance as a showpiece to visitors to Breghtel's workshop .

Historical context note

This clock is important for the decoration of its case as the time-keeping aspect is incidental. It was probably made for display by Breghtel and inspired a number of copies.

Breghtel was born in Nuremburg in 1609. By 1640 he had established himself as a silversmith in The Hague and by 1645 he was supplying the Statholder's Court. His widow Maria Steenwegge continued to manage the workshop after Breghtel's death in 1675, with the help of her sons-in-law.

Breghtel's three daughters each married goldsmiths, two were based in The Hague, Adriaen van Hoecke and Otto van Hesselt and one in Berlin (Samuel Blesendorff). Adriaen van Hoecke was still using Breghtel's mark two years after his master's death. He married Johanna Breghtel in 1659 and took over Breghtel's workshop in 1682.

Descriptive line

Silver, gilded silver and filigree, Holland, The Hague, 1665-70, made by H.C. Breghtel

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Pijzel-Dommisse, Jet. Haags goud en zilver Edelsmeedkunst uit de Hofstad. Catalogue of an exhibition held at Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, 24 Sept. 2005 - 8 Jan. 2006. The Hague: Gemeentemuseum, 2005. ISBN 9040090998.
Lippincott, Kristen (ed.), The story of time London, National Maritime Museum, 1999
Illustrated in auction catalogue with provenance of F.Davies who is leaving Bond Street. Bought by Benson (£340). Bought by the South Kensington Museum from M. Band, Lausanne on 9th April 1870. 'Earnestly reccomended' by M. Digby Wyatt, April 8th 1870.
Christie's London 5 March 1869 Lot 471
Michael Snodin and Nigel Llewellyn, Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2009
Menshikova, Maria and Jet Pijzel-Dommisse, eds. Silver Wonders from the East: filigree of the Tsars. Catalogue of the exhibition in the Hermitage Amsterdam, 27 April - 17 September 2006. Aldershot, U.K., Burlington, VT, Lund Humphries, Amsterdam: In association with the Hermitage Museum, 2006. ISBN 0853319480

Labels and date

Breghtel was born in Nuremburg in 1609. By 1640 he had established himself as a silversmith in The Hague. He died in 1668. This clock was formerly in the Collections of the Kings of Hanover. [1980]
The clock is conceived as a Temple of Life surmounted by Time. The eight-day movement strikes the hours only on the bell in the cupola; three of the four sides have dials; the front dial has an enamelled hour glass supported by gilded putti. Embossed plaques illustrating the Signs of the Zodiac (around the drum of the cupola), the Ages of Man and the Seasons (on the plinth) evoke the passage of time. Statuettes of classical deities, Venus and Cupid (February) Apollo, Mercury and Janus (January), Saturn and Diana, Jupiter and Mars (March) symbolizing the months, adorn the cornice; the reliefs of seasonal activities from the lives of the gods (on the plinth) provide appropriate commentary; thus Diana bathing is illustrative of Summer. Scenes of teaching children, a younger couple walking, men warming themselves by the fire and an elderly couple hobbling on sticks illustrate mortal life. The frieze decoration above picks up the seasonal theme, fishes or 'pisces' evoke Winter; cornucopiae of flowers, Spring; Ceres' head, Summer and bunches of grapes, Autumn.

Breghtel was born in Nuremburg in 1609. By 1640 he was an established silversmith in The Hague. By the 1670s he was supplying silver for the Stadholder's family. The sumptious decoration of this clock demonstrates the techniques characteristic of leading goldsmiths' workshops' in this fashionable city, which was also home to the Dutch government, the States General. The richly embossed floral ornament which decorates the sides is matched by exquisitie silver filigree work which adorns the pilasters and half columns and represents tiles on the cupola roof. The statuettes, half columns and plinth supports are gilded.

This showpiece was displayed in the goldsmith's workshopand was still there after his widow’s death in 1682. It was sold at auction in Amsterdam in 1715. [2008]
HOLLAND, (The Hague), 1665-70
Silver and silver-gilt, pierced, embossed, with filigree
Silver by Hans Conraedt Breghtel, clock movement by Adriaen van den Bergh

This clock is signed by Breghtel, one of the leading goldsmiths working in The Hague in the mid-17th century. The clock was probably made a showpiece to attract patronage from The Hague's wealthy citizens. Inspired by classical architecture, it provides a setting for classical Roman deities at cornice level and is surmounted by Old Father Time. The cupola is decorated with reliefs representing the signs of the zodiac; the plinth with scenes of the ages of man and of the senses.

92-1870 [1980-1990]

Production Note

The clock is listed in the inventory of the contents of the workshop in 1682 as "het grote silver horlogie met drie wijzerplaten, omtrent waardig vijff ende twintigh hondert gulden". It was sold at auction in Amsterdam 28 May 1715 as '"een Koninglyk Horlogie, zeer zwaer met fyn zilv. fil de gryn omtrokken, en tuss. beiden versiert met uytmuntende konstige gedreeve plaeten, zynde alle Historien uit Ovidius, beneffens verscheide plaeten met heerlyke Lof en Bloemwerken, en rondom d. Coupel div. sware vergulde Beelden, zynde alle overkonstig en deftig uytgevoerd, en 't uurwerk gemaekt door H. Bregtel in 's Gravenhage, loopt een maend".


Silver; Silver-gilt; Brass


Technique; Embossing; Filigree; Casting; Enamelling


Clocks & Watches; Metalwork

Production Type



Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.