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Sundial

Sundial

  • Place of origin:

    Marseilles (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1641 - ca. 1674 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Henri, Robert (sculptor)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    ivory, partly painted, engraved in black, with steel fittings and coloured paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Ellen Hearn, Villa St Louis, Menton in 1923; this and other objects presented at the same time were labelled as the Alfred Williams Hearn gift.

  • Museum number:

    A.53-1923

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This sundial and compass, in ivory with steel fittings, was made in about 1641-74 in Marseilles in France by Henri Robert. The exterior of this dial is engraved with a dial and calendar, inscribed with the words 'FAIT PAR HENRI ROBERT MARSEILLE' and on the front are the arms of the Marquis de Montigny, who was governor of the castle of Dieppe from 1641 to 1674. Ickowicz has commented on the puzzling fact that this dial is in the style of those made in Dieppe, and yet is signed by an artist working in Marseilles. He notes however a letter of 22 January 1645 from Louis XIV to Montigny ordering him to assist sailors travelling to Provence in order to arm 12 vessels, implying there were trade contacts between Dieppe and the South of France. Nothing more is known of the artist Henri Robert, other that he was active in Marseille in about 1650.
Sundials and compasses were portable and essential for accurate time-keeping, and would have beed used by merchants, sea captains, travellers, and indeed anyone who wished to know the time, in the days before accurate pocket watches or of course wrist watches. They relied on measuring the sun’s changing direction in the sky, indicating the hour of the day through the angle of the shadow cast by the gnomon, which was the string in the hinged portable sundials. In order to work correctly the direction dials das to be properly aligned, and for this reason such portaqble sundials needed to incorporate magnetic compasses. Ivory was a suitable material for a number of reasons: it was not heavy, did not warp as easily as wood, and its light colour and realtive softness meant that it was easy to inscribe. Such objects were produced from the fifteenth century up to the early twentieth.

Physical description

Folding compass and dial; the exterior is engraved with a dial and calendar, inscribed the words "FAIT PAR HENRI ROBERT MARSEILLE." The interior is fitted with a steel dial and calendar with circular pointer and a compass, with glass and needle complete, at the back of which is a table of latitutes in coloured paper; on the front the arms of the Marquis de Montigny.

Place of Origin

Marseilles (made)

Date

ca. 1641 - ca. 1674 (made)

Artist/maker

Henri, Robert (sculptor)

Materials and Techniques

ivory, partly painted, engraved in black, with steel fittings and coloured paper

Marks and inscriptions

'FAIT PAR HENRI ROBERT MARSEILLE'
'made by Rober Marseille'
on the front exterior panel

Dimensions

Depth: 10.2 cm, Width: 8.5 cm, Height: 1 cm when closed

Object history note

Ickowicz has commented on the puzzling fact that this dial is in the style of those made in Dieppe, and yet is signed by an artist working in Marseilles.

Given by Mrs Ellen Hearn, Villa St. Louis, Menton in 1923; this and other objects presented at the same time were labelled as the Alfred Williams Hearn gift.

Descriptive line

Folding compass and sundial, ivory engraved in black with steel fittings, with the arms of the Marquis de Montigny, by Henri Robert, France (Marseilles), ca. 1641-1674

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

Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Carvings in Ivory. London: Published under the Authority of the Board of Education, 1927-1929, Part II, p. 83
p. 85
Ickowicz, Pierre, Les Cadrans solaires (Les cahiers de l’ivoire du Château-Musée de Dieppe, no. 1), Dieppe, 2004
p. 403
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, p. 403, cat. no. 399

Materials

Ivory; Steel

Subjects depicted

Tudor roses

Categories

Sculpture; Scientific instruments

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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