Watch thumbnail 1
Watch thumbnail 2
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91 to 93 mezzanine, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Watch

1660-1670 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Jean Rousseau (1606-84) was the son of a watchmaker and the father and grandfather of watchmakers. He was the great-grandfather of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the philospher (1712-78). The latter said that a Genevan watchmaker 'is a man who can be introduced anywhere; a Parisian watchmaker is fit only to talk about watches' (quoted in Wikipedia entry on J.-J. Rousseau, 26.10.2010).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Engraved silver with gilt brass
Brief Description
Engraved silver watch with a gilt brass dial, signed 'Jean Rousseau', Switzerland (Geneva), 1660-70
Physical Description
Watch in silver case engraved on the reverse with oval vignettes of the Four Seasons within scrolling foliage. Around the band are vignettes representing the Four Elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Gilt brass dial with subsidiary dials with silver rings and silver apertures. The top aperture shows the name of the month, the number of days in the month, and the zodian symbol. The left dial shows the date. The right dial shows the age and the phase of the moon. The bottom dial shows the time in hours I-XII with aperture for days of the week. The top plate of the movement is engraved 'Jean Rousseau'.
Dimensions
  • Height: 5.7cm
  • Width: 4.7cm
  • Depth: 2.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
'Jean Rousseau' (Maker's name engraved on top plate of movement)
Object history
Purchased at the auction by Christie's of the collection of Ralph Bernal (1783-1854), politician and art collector, in 1855. He held a seat in the House of Commons from 1815-52. After his death the Society of Arts proposed without success that the Government should buy his entire collection for the Museum of Ornamental Art then at Marlborough House which became the future South Kensington Museum, now the Victoria and Albert Museum. 730 lots were acquired for Marlborough House (Anthony Burton, Vision & Accident, V&A Publications, 1999, p. 34).



After his father's death in 1811, Bernal inherited three large sugar estates and over 500 enslaved people in Jamaica. 'In 1835 and 1836 he was awarded compensation for slave ownership amounting to over £11,450' (Helen Davies, Ralph Bernal, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, version dated 11 March 2021, https://doi.org/10.1093/ref:odnb/2233).
Subjects depicted
Summary
Jean Rousseau (1606-84) was the son of a watchmaker and the father and grandfather of watchmakers. He was the great-grandfather of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the philospher (1712-78). The latter said that a Genevan watchmaker 'is a man who can be introduced anywhere; a Parisian watchmaker is fit only to talk about watches' (quoted in Wikipedia entry on J.-J. Rousseau, 26.10.2010).
Bibliographic Reference
Timepieces des Montres signées signed Rousseau. Geneva: Patek Philippe Museum. pp. 106-107, no. D-67. ISBN 9782970070023
Collection
Accession Number
2374-1855

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record createdJuly 28, 2005
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