Clock thumbnail 1
Clock thumbnail 2
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images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery

Clock

1610-1615 (made), late 17th century (altered)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
The movement of this spring-driven, striking table clock has been extensively altered, probably in the late 17th century. Its base-plate is signed by David Ramsay, but some of the later alterations to the clock were done by the French clockmaker Louis David. A brass plate bearing his name covers Ramsay's signature. The case is likely to have been imported from France, since French clocks of this period have the same square base and domed bell-cover pierced with openwork.

Subjects Depicted
On the base is an engraved scene showing James I, with his two sons Henry and Charles, holding the Pope's nose to a grindstone. On the right a Cardinal and three friars view the proceedings with dismay. The scene is taken from a German engraving and was inspired by the settlement made in 1609 between Spain and the Estates General of the Netherlands. The settlement was regarded as a great blow to papal power since it was an alliance between a Roman Catholic and a Protestant state. The clock must have been made shortly afterwards, when the issue was still topical.

People
David Ramsay came originally from Dundee and worked in France and London. He was appointed 'Watchmaker and Constructor of horologes to His Majesty King James I' in 1613 and was the first Master of the Clockmakers' Company in 1632. He died in about 1654.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gilt brass, with pierced and engraved decoration; dial of silver and translucent enamel; engraved silver plaques
Brief Description
Table clock, with a silver dial enriched with enamels, the movement signed by David Ramsay, Scotland, about 1610.
Physical Description
Table alarm clock, the silver dial enriched with translucent enamel, the movement signed by David Ramsay about 1610. It is square, engraved with arabesques, supported on 4 feet shaped like lions sejant, the domed and pierced top is surmounted by the small silver dial. Alterations were made to it in France in the late 17th century. The clock's 'face' on the top is embellished with flowers and a stag in brilliant enamel. The sides are intricately engraved (set with silver plaques engraved with the Evangelists), and on the base is an engraved scene showing James VI and I with his two sons Henry and Charles. They are holding the Pope's nose to a grindstone which is being turned by English bishops.
Dimensions
  • Height: 10.2cm
  • Width: 11.4cm
  • Depth: 11.4cm
Dimensions checked: measured; 01/01/1999 by DW
Gallery Label
British Galleries: Engraved underneath is a scene showing James I of England and his sons holding the Pope's nose to a grindstone. This refers to the recognition of Dutch independence from the Spanish, achieved in 1609 and seen as a great blow to the Papacy. The time is read from the small dial on top.(27/03/2003)
Credit line
Purchased with the assistance of E. J. Phillips
Object history
The movement made in Scotland and signed by David Ramsay (born in Scotland about 1585, died in London, 1653), clockmaker to James I; the case made in France. The clock was formerly in the collection of Prince Peter Soltykoff, who assembled a vast collection of medieval art in Paris between 1840 (when he took up residence there) and 1861 (when he died). In the twentieth century it was acquired by the London dealers S. J. Phillips, who cleared up the confusion over the identity of the clock's maker by removing a small plaque that had obscured part of the signature. This conclusively revealed the maker to be the Scotsman David Ramsay, and not the French clockmaker David.
Summary
Object Type
The movement of this spring-driven, striking table clock has been extensively altered, probably in the late 17th century. Its base-plate is signed by David Ramsay, but some of the later alterations to the clock were done by the French clockmaker Louis David. A brass plate bearing his name covers Ramsay's signature. The case is likely to have been imported from France, since French clocks of this period have the same square base and domed bell-cover pierced with openwork.

Subjects Depicted
On the base is an engraved scene showing James I, with his two sons Henry and Charles, holding the Pope's nose to a grindstone. On the right a Cardinal and three friars view the proceedings with dismay. The scene is taken from a German engraving and was inspired by the settlement made in 1609 between Spain and the Estates General of the Netherlands. The settlement was regarded as a great blow to papal power since it was an alliance between a Roman Catholic and a Protestant state. The clock must have been made shortly afterwards, when the issue was still topical.

People
David Ramsay came originally from Dundee and worked in France and London. He was appointed 'Watchmaker and Constructor of horologes to His Majesty King James I' in 1613 and was the first Master of the Clockmakers' Company in 1632. He died in about 1654.
Bibliographic References
  • Bailey, C. T. P. 'A Royal Table Clock by David Ramsay'. In: The Connoisseur, vol. LXXXVII (1931), pp. 238-9.
  • claude blair
  • Brennan, Christine E. 'The Importance of Provenance in Nineteenth-Century Paris and Beyond: Prince Pierre Soltykoff's Famed Collection of Medieval Art', pp. 141-160. In: Collecting and Provenance. A Multidisciplinary Approach, ed. Jane Milosch and Nick Pearce. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2019. ISBN 978-1-5381-2756-8
Collection
Accession Number
M.7-1931

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record createdSeptember 12, 2001
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