Copper in the Arts

February 2013

Precision and Splendor: Bronze Clocks and Watches on View at the Frick Collection

Movement by Renacle-Nicolas SotiauMantel Clock withStudy and Philosophy, c. 1785−90, patinated and gilt bronze, marble, enameled metal, and glass, Horace Wood Brock Collection.

Photographe courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
A new exhibition at the Frick Collection of ornate bronze timepieces elegantly answers the question "What time is it?" in style. On view through Feb. 2, 2014, Precision and Splendor: Clocks and Watches showcases several magnificently crafted timepieces from the early sixteenth to the nineteenth century. The exhibition features eleven clocks and fourteen watches from the Winthrop Kellogg Edey bequest, along with five clocks lent by the collector Horace Wood Brock that have never before been seen in New York City. Together, these objects chronicle the evolution over the centuries of more accurate and complex timekeepers and illustrate the aesthetic developments that reflected Europe's latest styles. Precision and Splendor: Clocks and Watches at The Frick Collection was organized by Charlotte Vignon, Associate Curator of Decorative Arts, The Frick Collection. Support for the exhibition is generously provided by The Selz Foundation, Peter and Gail Goltra, and the David Berg Foundation.

The earliest example in the exhibition that incorporates an escapement, a coiled spring, and a fusee is a gilt-brass table clock made in Aix-en-Provence about 1530 by Pierre de Fobis. One of the most famous French clockmakers of his time, Fobis is still recognized today for his durable and highly refined movements. The Frick's clock is among Fobis's rare surviving works and is one of the earliest extant spring- driven timekeepers. Its complex movement is set into a typical sixteenth-century French clock case, inspired by classical architecture and ornament rediscovered during the Renaissance. Except for the small dial in blue enamel, the hexagonal gilt- brass case is covered entirely with acanthus scrolls, urns, winged heads, and tiny figures whose limbs morph into elegant, intertwining foliage

The exhibition also showcases several clocks from the late eighteenth century which incorporate sculptures in bronze made by or after renowned artists. One such example is the stunning mantel clock of about 1785 to 1790 representing Study and Philosophy after a sculpture by Simon-Louis Boizot.

Resources:

The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th St., New York, NY, (212) 288-0700

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