Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Royal Mantel Clock

Royal Mantel Clock

  • Place of origin:

    London (Gilt-brass case with pierced and engraved side panels; the circular disc on the backplate of the movement signed Clay for Charles Clay (working 1720 to 1740).
    The clock case is mounted on top with an eagle with one open and one closed wing perched on the body of a draco (a dragon with the tail of a snake with a foliate terminal); its mouth open with teeth and tongue clearly visible. The sides of the case are decorated with flowers, shells and batwings; the apron on the front is decorated with a heart-shaped cartouche whilst that on the back has two superimposed shells. The clock is supported on four asymmetric scroll feet also embellished with shells. The decoration on the back suggests that it was intended for display against an overmantel looking glass so that the detail on the back could be appreciated.
    The clock movement has an eight-day spring-driven going train. This has a circular five pillar single chain fusee movement with verge escapement and short-bob pendulum. The rotating circular disc on the backplate is connected via the centre-arbor to the concentric calendar hand and advanced day by day via pallet flag engaging with teeth cut to the circumference, held in place with a jumper (flexible spring). The fusee may have been regrooved to accept a fusee chain; it has an additional steel stop-piece and a first wheel of a redder colour which does not have the tiny marks on the teeth normal for the 1730s and may be a later replacement. The movement is held in place on a wooden platform by a screw on the underside of the case.
    The 4.25 inch circular enamelled dial has a cobalt blue centre within small diameter Roman numeral chapter ring with Arabic five minutes and concentric bands annotated with painted signs of the Zodiac. Sun Rise for each sign and date-of-the-month with months named to outer track, with fine sculpted steel hour and minute hands to centre and calendar hand issuing from a gold solar mask within narrow canted gilt bezel surround. The whole enamelled clock dial is a new introduction found in contemporary French clocks signed by Charles Voisin and developed by Antoine-Nicolas Martinière (J-D Augarde, <i>Les Ouvriers du Temps</i>, p.99) who explains that
    ‘It was not until the 1730s that technical progress allowed the manufacture of entirely enamelled large dials, at the initiative of Antoine-Nicolas Martinière who in 1740 wrote as follows
    ‘You ask me, Sir, to find out from the Porcelain Manufacturers if they could make you a Clock Dial one foot in diameter, because you tell me that you know it is impossible to make any of this size all in enamel, like Watch Dials. It is true that until recently this was impossible in the City, and even at Court. Here is an example. The King ordered a Clock, and H.M. wished that the Dial be all of one piece, in enamel, and 14 inches in diameter. The one who received the order could only reply that he would attempt to carry it out, not that he would succeed. The Sr Martinière, Enameller, in the rue Dauphine, undertook this task, and succeeded so well in all respects, that he had the honour of presenting it himself to His Majesty, who was agreeably surprised, and gave him signs of satisfaction with so much kindness that he returned to Paris, enchanted with so happy a success, and resolved to carry out new studies in order to advance, as much in his Art as would be possible’.
    A.N.Martinière, ‘Lettre écrite de Paris à un horloger de Province sur les Cadran d’Email’, <i>Mercure de France</i>, Avril, 1740.
    The ‘gold sun chased’ is fitted to the dial by a gilt brass pipe. The key hole has been protected by inserting a brass sleeve which is a tight fit on the underlying dial plate. The border of zodiacal signs was reserved in white enamel; then overpainted in blue and finally drawn in black over both the white and blue enamelled grounds. Although the dial is English work the technique of stippling apparent in the outer blue ground border is associated with German artists, for example Christian Zinke who was working in London at this date. Zinke came to England in 1706 to assist Charles Boit and in 1732 was appointed Cabinet Painter to the Prince of Wales. He remained in England. The back of the dial plate has the scratched inscriptions ‘CRMX 326’ and September/99 Oct/06 indicating repairs undertaken in 1899 and 1906 suggesting a date for the re-enamelling of the centre. It is not now possible to access the back of the enamelled dial to ascertain whether these is a signature as is sometimes found. The dial is protected with a hinged convex glazed bezel and scroll, the rear with circular glazed aperture, probably a later replacement for the pierced brass back cover found on contemporary French mantel and table clocks. The pierced side frets are finely engraved and are held in place with returning bottom ledges.
    , assembled)

  • Date:

    1736 (assembled)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Clay, Charles (maker)
    Dutens, Peter (supplier)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gilt-brass, cast, chased, pierced, enamelled

  • Credit Line:

    Acquired with contributions from the Art Fund, the Gilbert Public Arts Foundation, the Gilbert Trust for the Arts, the Hugh Phillips Bequest and the Friends of the V&A.

  • Museum number:

    M.1:1,2-2016

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This mantel clock was supplied by the London-based Huguenot jeweller Peter Dutens for Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, eldest son of George II in 1736, at a cost of £61 2s. The elaborate case in the French rococo style was made in Paris. The eagle with one wing boldly outstretched which surmounts the case may symbolize Frederick’s close political associations with Prussia; Prince Frederick only came to London in 1728 and maintained contact with his cousin Frederick the Great throughout his life. The design of the case is influenced by contemporary French ornament prints including the work of de La Joue; a model for the case may have been carved in wood or rendered in terracotta in London and sent to Paris for casting. The complex dial with the signs of the zodiac was designed by Charles Clay, Clockmaker to His Majesty’s Board of Works. Clay was paid for the design of the enamelled dial and for its central gold mount chased with the face of the sun with a longer hand that points to the day of the month. The clock was ordered in February and delivered at the end of August, 1736.
It is signed on the back of the movement ‘Clay’. Clay who had trained as a watchmaker and from 1730 specialized in assembling sophisticated organ clocks which played music by Handel with elaborate painted front plates and sculptural mounts using the best contemporary artists and sculptors celebrating the Italian opera staged in London. This clock may have been intended as a gift for Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha whom Prince Frederick Louis married in London in April 1736. It may have been intended for display on a mantelpiece in the Prince and Princess's private rooms at Carlton House, St.James’s, their new London residence.

Physical description

Gilt-brass case with pierced side panels; the movement signed Clay for Charles Clay (working in London 1720 to 1740)
The clock case is mounted on top with an eagle with one open and one closed wing perched on the body of a draco (a dragon with the tail of a snake with a foliate terminal); its mouth open with teeth and tongue clearly visible. The sides of the case are decorated with flowers, shells and batwings; the apron on the front is decorated with a heart-shaped cartouche whilst that on the back has two superimposed shells. The clock is supported on four scroll feet also embellished with shells. The decoration on the back suggests that it was intended for display against an overmantel looking glass so that the detail on the back could be appreciated.
The clock movement has an eight-day spring-driven going train.This has a circular five pillar single chain fusee movement with verge escapement and short-bob pendulum. The rotating circular disc on the backplate is connected via the centre-arbor to the concentric calendar hand and advanced day by day via pallet flag engaging with teeth cut to the circumference, held in place with a jumper (flexible spring). The fusee may have been regrooved to accept a fusee chain; it has an additional steel stop-piece and a first wheel of a redder colour which does not have the tiny marks on the teeth normal for the 1730s and may be a later replacement. The movement is held in place on a wooden platform by a screw on the underside of the case.
The 4.25 inch circular enamelled dial has a cobalt blue centre within small diameter Roman numeral chapter ring with Arabic five minutes and concentric bands annotated with painted signs of the Zodiac. Sun Rise for each sign and date-of-the-month with months named to outer track, with fine sculpted steel hour and minute hands to centre and calendar hand issuing from a gold solar mask within narrow canted gilt bezel surround. The whole enamelled clock dial is a new introduction found in contemporary French clocks signed by Charles Voisin and developed by Antoine-Nicolas Martinière J-D Augarde, Les Ouvriers du Temps, p.99 who explains that
‘It was not until the 1730s that technical progress allowed the manufacture of entirely enamelled large dials, at the initiative of Antoine-Nicolas Martinière who in 1740 wrote as follows
‘You ask me, Sir, to find out from the Porcelain Manufacturers if they could make you a Clock Dial one foot in diameter, because you tell me that you know it is impossible to make any of this size all in enamel, like Watch Dials. It is true that until recently this was impossible in the City, and even at Court. Here is an example. The King ordered a Clock, and H.M. wished that the Dial be all of one piece, in enamel, and 14 inches in diameter. The one who received the order could only reply that he would attempt to carry it out, not that he would succeed. The Sr Martinière, Enameller, in the rue Dauphine, undertook this task, and succeeded so well in all respects, that he had the honour of presenting it himself to His Majesty, who was agreeably surprised, and gave him signs of satisfaction with so much kindness that he returned to Paris, enchanted with so happy a success, and resolved to carry out new studies in order to advance, as much in his Art as would be possible’.
A.N.Martinière, ‘Lettre écrite de Paris à un horloger de Province sur les Cadran d’Email’ Mercure de France, Avril, 1740.
The ‘gold sun chased’ is fitted to the dial by a gilt brass pipe. The key hole has been protected by inserting a brass sleeve which is a tight fit on the underlying dial plate. The border of zodiacal signs was reserved in white enamel; then overpainted in blue and finally drawn in black over both the white and blue enamelled grounds. Although the dial is English work the technique of stippling apparent in the outer blue ground border is associated with German artists, for example Christian Zinke who was working in London at this date. Zinke came to England in 1706 to assist Charles Boit and in 1732 was appointed Cabinet Painter to the Prince of Wales. He remained in England. The back of the dial plate has the scratched inscriptions ‘CRMX 326’ and September/99 Oct/06 indicating repairs undertaken in 1899 and 1906 suggesting a date for the re-enamelling of the centre. It is not now possible to access the back of the enamelled dial to ascertain whether these is a signature as is sometimes found. The dial is protected with a hinged convex glazed bezel and scroll, the rear with circular glazed aperture, probably a later replacement for the pierced brass back cover found on contemporary French mantel and table clocks. The pierced side frets are finely engraved and are held in place with returning bottom ledges.

Place of Origin

London (Gilt-brass case with pierced and engraved side panels; the circular disc on the backplate of the movement signed Clay for Charles Clay (working 1720 to 1740).
The clock case is mounted on top with an eagle with one open and one closed wing perched on the body of a draco (a dragon with the tail of a snake with a foliate terminal); its mouth open with teeth and tongue clearly visible. The sides of the case are decorated with flowers, shells and batwings; the apron on the front is decorated with a heart-shaped cartouche whilst that on the back has two superimposed shells. The clock is supported on four asymmetric scroll feet also embellished with shells. The decoration on the back suggests that it was intended for display against an overmantel looking glass so that the detail on the back could be appreciated.
The clock movement has an eight-day spring-driven going train. This has a circular five pillar single chain fusee movement with verge escapement and short-bob pendulum. The rotating circular disc on the backplate is connected via the centre-arbor to the concentric calendar hand and advanced day by day via pallet flag engaging with teeth cut to the circumference, held in place with a jumper (flexible spring). The fusee may have been regrooved to accept a fusee chain; it has an additional steel stop-piece and a first wheel of a redder colour which does not have the tiny marks on the teeth normal for the 1730s and may be a later replacement. The movement is held in place on a wooden platform by a screw on the underside of the case.
The 4.25 inch circular enamelled dial has a cobalt blue centre within small diameter Roman numeral chapter ring with Arabic five minutes and concentric bands annotated with painted signs of the Zodiac. Sun Rise for each sign and date-of-the-month with months named to outer track, with fine sculpted steel hour and minute hands to centre and calendar hand issuing from a gold solar mask within narrow canted gilt bezel surround. The whole enamelled clock dial is a new introduction found in contemporary French clocks signed by Charles Voisin and developed by Antoine-Nicolas Martinière (J-D Augarde, Les Ouvriers du Temps, p.99) who explains that
‘It was not until the 1730s that technical progress allowed the manufacture of entirely enamelled large dials, at the initiative of Antoine-Nicolas Martinière who in 1740 wrote as follows
‘You ask me, Sir, to find out from the Porcelain Manufacturers if they could make you a Clock Dial one foot in diameter, because you tell me that you know it is impossible to make any of this size all in enamel, like Watch Dials. It is true that until recently this was impossible in the City, and even at Court. Here is an example. The King ordered a Clock, and H.M. wished that the Dial be all of one piece, in enamel, and 14 inches in diameter. The one who received the order could only reply that he would attempt to carry it out, not that he would succeed. The Sr Martinière, Enameller, in the rue Dauphine, undertook this task, and succeeded so well in all respects, that he had the honour of presenting it himself to His Majesty, who was agreeably surprised, and gave him signs of satisfaction with so much kindness that he returned to Paris, enchanted with so happy a success, and resolved to carry out new studies in order to advance, as much in his Art as would be possible’.
A.N.Martinière, ‘Lettre écrite de Paris à un horloger de Province sur les Cadran d’Email’, Mercure de France, Avril, 1740.
The ‘gold sun chased’ is fitted to the dial by a gilt brass pipe. The key hole has been protected by inserting a brass sleeve which is a tight fit on the underlying dial plate. The border of zodiacal signs was reserved in white enamel; then overpainted in blue and finally drawn in black over both the white and blue enamelled grounds. Although the dial is English work the technique of stippling apparent in the outer blue ground border is associated with German artists, for example Christian Zinke who was working in London at this date. Zinke came to England in 1706 to assist Charles Boit and in 1732 was appointed Cabinet Painter to the Prince of Wales. He remained in England. The back of the dial plate has the scratched inscriptions ‘CRMX 326’ and September/99 Oct/06 indicating repairs undertaken in 1899 and 1906 suggesting a date for the re-enamelling of the centre. It is not now possible to access the back of the enamelled dial to ascertain whether these is a signature as is sometimes found. The dial is protected with a hinged convex glazed bezel and scroll, the rear with circular glazed aperture, probably a later replacement for the pierced brass back cover found on contemporary French mantel and table clocks. The pierced side frets are finely engraved and are held in place with returning bottom ledges.
, assembled)

Date

1736 (assembled)

Artist/maker

Clay, Charles (maker)
Dutens, Peter (supplier)

Materials and Techniques

Gilt-brass, cast, chased, pierced, enamelled

Marks and inscriptions

The back of the movement (on the large toothed calendar wheel which conceals the back plate) is signed ‘Clay’; the front of the dial is inscribed with the months of the year; the average time of sunrise of each month and the hours in Roman numerals.
Charles Clay is known for his organ clocks embellished with sculpture and painting that played tunes adapted by George Frederick Handel. See T.Murdoch ‘Time’s Melody: Charles Clay’s Musical Clocks, Apollo, November 2013, CLXXVIII, no.614, pp.78-85. Clay’s role as designer of the dial for the present clock demonstrates the high specification of this feature with the unusual combination of zodiacal and calendrical indications arranged over concentric rings. In early 18th century London there was increased interest in the position of the sun in the zodiac and its relationship with clock time.
In 2009, the V&A acquired a front plate for a musical clock by Charles Clay http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O249272/plaque-rysbrack-john-michael/. This was painted by Jacopo Amigoni with Apollo and the Nine Muses with below the space for the dial, a gilt bronze relief, modelled by the sculptor Michael Rysbrack showing Apollo with Time and Harmony (M.29-2009). A gold and rock crystal watch, signed 'Cha: Clay, London, 1197' http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O113925/watch-clay-charles/ (4299-1857) is on display in the Jewellery Gallery (room 91 mezzanine, case 62, shelf A, box 7)

A machine watch maker who, according to his will 18 January 1739, came from Emley, near Huddersfield, West Riding, Yorkshire, Charles Clay petitioned Parliament in 1716 for a patent for a repeating and musical watch. The patent was disputed by Daniel Quare, former Master of the London Clockmakers’ Company and although the Attorney General reported in favour of Mr Clay, the Company defended Quare. The case was fought for over a year and the patent was not finally granted. In 1723 Clay, established with premises in the Strand, was appointed Clockmaker to His Majesty's Board of Works, a position he held until at least 1737. Clay's obituary in The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. X, 1740, demonstrates his reputation as a leading maker of musical clocks.

Peter Dutens
Peter Dutens whose shop bill head is preserved in the V&A advertised in the London newspapers from 1731 to 1745; his noble clients included Thomas Thynne, 2nd Viscount Weymouth (1710-1751) in 1740, Lionel Tollemache, 4th Earl of Dysart and Emily, 1st Duchess of Leinster in 1757. In 1758, Mrs Delany recorded that she was ‘dazzled with constellations of diamonds’ at ‘Mr Dutens, the Jeweller’s’ who entertained us with a clock of his own composing.’ (Lady Llanover ed. The autobiography and correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs Delany, London, 1861, vol.3, pp.413, 478).

Richard Edgcumbe suggests that the gold mount chased with the face of the sun may have been supplied to Charles Clay by Ishmael Parbury a chaser with whom Clay is known to have worked (Parbury supplied two watchcases for movements signed by Clay; watchmakers often continued with the chasers whose work they knew).

The case may have been ordered in Paris through William Hubert of St Martin’s Lane who specialized in supplying metal lighting equipment and was paid for ‘four pair of Chandeliers and Branches and six pairs of Medal Branches’ for Prince Frederick’s use in September 1732.
The model for the case may have been provided by the carver Paul Petit who was supplying carved picture frames for Prince Frederick from September 1733.

Dimensions

Height: 40 cm, Width: 16 cm at base, Width: 19 cm widest point in front, Depth: 11 cm at base, Depth: 17 cm depth at widest point

Object history note

The clock remained in the British Royal Collection until 1843 when it was included in
the sale of the collection of the Duke of Sussex at Christie’s 22 June 1843 (128); it was
purchased by the dealer John Boykett of Jarman, 130 New Bond Street.
It was later sold to Sir Richard Charles Henry Rycroft, Kempshott Park; acquired by the
vendor Edward Hurst at Dreweatts, Newbury 28 August 2014.

Historical context note

This ormolu-cased clock is amongst the earliest documented examples of
Rococo confections in England, a subject area closely associated with the V&A’s
ground-breaking 1984 exhibition Rococo: Art and Design in Hogarth’s England.
It may be inspired by designs by Jacques de la Joue (1686-1761) published as
Livre Nouveau de Douze Morceaux de Fantaisie and advertised in Paris in May 1736
in the Mercure de France as ‘des sujets de fantaisies singulières et très élégantes’
( see V&A 29678.3). Other possible sources include
contemporary ornament prints by Jean Mondon, Quatrieme Livre De Formes
Ornées de Rocailles Carels Figures Oyseaux et Dragons chinois
, published in 1736 (E.364-1952) and designs engraved by Gabriel Huquier after Alexis Peyrotte.
Frederick Prince of Wales was interested in science and his chaplain was the scientist J.T.Desaguiliers (1638-1744) who entertained members of the royal family with philosophical experiments at Hampton Court and at Kew, where Prince Frederick had a room containing Desaguliers's scientific instruments (ODNB http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/7539 accessed 13/1/16)
Charles, 5 Lord Baltimore (1699-1751) who purchased another French clock on behalf of the prince was an important patron in his own right. His purchases of paintings and objets d’art in Paris for Prince Frederick Louis are documented in the Household Accounts at the Duchy of Cornwall and include a further payment for 11 guineas for a clock.

Descriptive line

Royal mantel clock with gilt-brass case with enamel dial centred with sun in gold the movement signed on the back 'Clay'.

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

Murdoch, T.M. A Royal Acquisition for the Victoria and Albert Museum in Antiquarian Horology, Volume 38, No. 1 (March 2017), pp. 51-60

Labels and date

Mantel clock supplied by Peter Dutens, Jeweller, London, for Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, 1736
Ormolu case, enamel dial with gold sun, movement signed by Charles Clay (d.1740)
Commissioned in February 1736 for Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, eldest son of George II, from Huguenot jeweller Peter Dutens, in London’s West End. Documented in the Prince’s household accounts, the clock was delivered seven months later on 31st August at a total cost of £61 2 shillings. A 'Drawing for a Clock Dial Plate' was submitted for approval in mid-March; enamelling the sophisticated dial in blue and white with the signs of the zodiac was the most expensive part; the drawing cost £1 5s (£1.25) but the dial cost 20 guineas (£21).
The ormolu case was brought over from Paris. It cost 11 guineas (£11.55) with 2 guineas to cover the cost of commission, transport, custom duty and a further charge at the Custom House. The ‘Gold sun chased’ in the centre of the dial at 4 guineas (£4.20) was supplied by a London chaser, possibly Ishmael Parbury, who supplied gold cases for Charles Clay’s watches. There was a further charge of 2 guineas 'For making side Frizes to the Case and Glass' which suggests that the movement was originally intended to have a striking mechanism so that the bell could be heard through the pierced apertures. The eight day movement ‘that goes with a Chain to show the signs of the Zodiack with Rising of the Sun etc' cost 18 guineas (£18.90).
Possibly intended as a wedding present from the Prince to his bride, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha; they married in April, 1736; and for display at their new London home Carlton House, St James’s.
[01/03/2016]

Production Note

It is possible the gold mount with the face of the sun might have been chased for Charles Clay by Ishmael Parbury a chaser with whom Clay is known to have worked. Parbury chased two watchcases for movements signed by Clay (see Richard Edgcumbe, The Art of the Gold Chaser in Eighteenth-Century London, Oxford, 2000, pp. 139-40). Watchmakers often continued with the chasers whose work they knew.

The case may have been ordered in Paris through William Hubert of St Martin’s Lane who specialized in supplying metal lighting equipment and was paid for ‘four pair of Chandeliers and Branches and six pairs of Medal Branches’ for Prince Frederick’s use in September 1732.

The model for the case may have been provided by the carver Paul Petit who was supplying carved picture frames for Prince Frederick from September 1733.

The provision and setting of the two pierced side frets suggest that the original movement was intended to be a two-train with a striking mechanism. Perhaps there was a change of mind after delivery of the case and before the London movement was supplied; perhaps Frederick and Augusta did not want a striking clock in their private apartments or more probably the French clock case could not accommodate a larger English striking movement.

Materials

Enamel; Gilt bronze; Gold

Techniques

Chasing; Casting; Enamelling

Categories

Clocks & Watches; Enamels; Metalwork

Production Type

Unique

Collection

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.