Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Clock

Maker:
Workshop of David Roentgen (German, Herrnhaag 1743–1807 Wiesbaden, master 1780)
Maker:
Movement attributed to Elie Prudhomme (German, born Switzerland, first mentioned 1776)
Date:
ca. 1780–90
Culture:
German, Neuwied am Rhein
Medium:
Oak, pine, and mahogany, veneered with mahogany; brass, gilt bronze and enamel
Dimensions:
Overall: 18 1/4 × 12 1/2 × 8 1/4 in. (46.4 × 31.8 × 21 cm)
Classification:
Horology
Credit Line:
Gift of The Ruth Stanton Family Foundation, in honor of Wolfram Koeppe, 2002
Accession Number:
2002.237
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 553
Its severe architectural form and restrained detailing make the case of this clock as imposing as a classical building or monument. Very much in the Roentgen style is the use of finely grained mahogany veneer, applied in a single sheet from the frieze at top down to the base, combined with brass inlay and gilt-bronze mounts (see also another clock by David Roentgen in The David Collection, Copenhagen, inv. no. M 26). The stable base, large enamel dial with bold roman numerals, and steel hand that indicates the day of the month make it the ideal timepiece for a desktop. In fact, a similar clock that belonged to a descendant of David Roentgen until 1904 is seen standing on the top of a writing commode in a contemporary photograph;[1] the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg displays a related model on a Roentgen rolltop desk.[2]

In keeping with the quiet elegance of the case, the movement signed by Élie Preudhomme, marks the half hours with one bell tone.[3] The dial is signed "Jean Thomas / Petersbourg." Thomas was a Swiss clockmaker who lived in St. Petersburg in the early nineteenth century, repairing and trading clocks. Only a few clocks made by him are known.[4]

[Wolfram Koeppe 2012]

Footnotes:
[1] Dietrich Fabian. Kinzing und Roentgen, Uhren aus Neuwied: Uhren, Uhrenmöbel, Musikinstrumente, Spielwerke. Leben und Werke der Uhrmacherfamilien Kinzing und der Kunstschreiner Abraham und David Roentgen. Bad Neustadt an der Saale, 1984, p. 343, no. 87; Achim Stiegel. Präzision und Hingabe: Möbelkunst von Abraham und David Roentgen. With contributions by Burkhardt Göres. Exh. cat. Kunstgewerbemuseum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; 2007. Bestandskatalog des Kunstgewerbemuseums 24. Berlin, 2007, pp. 152–53, no. 27.

[2] Information about the clock in the Pushkin House, Russian Academy of Sciences, was provided by Mikhail Guryev. For the example from The David Collection in Copenhagen, see Dietrich Fabian. Kinzing und Roentgen, Uhren aus Neuwied: Uhren, Uhrenmöbel, Musikinstrumente, Spielwerke. Leben und Werke der Uhrmacherfamilien Kinzing und der Kunstschreiner Abraham und David Roentgen. Bad Neustadt an der Saale, 1984, p. 359, no. A9. A small version said to have been in a collection in the vicinity of Neuwied was sold in 2011 at a German auction house (Carola van Ham, Cologne, sale cat., September 19, 2011, lot 880). For other related clocks, see Dietrich Fabian, op. cit., p. 342, nos. 85, 86; Dietrich Fabian. Abraham und David Roentgen: Das noch aufgefundene Gesamtwerk ihrer Möbel- und Uhrenkunst in Verbindung mit der Uhrmacherfamilie Kinzing in Neuwied. Leben und Werk, Verzeichnis der Werke, Quellen. Bad Neustadt an der Saale, 1996, p. 175, no. 373. An additional example was in the collection of Karl Lagerfeld (Christie’s, Monaco, sale cat., April 28–29, 2000, lot 359).

[3] Wolfram Koeppe in "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 2002–2003." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61, no. 2 (Fall 2003), p. 26. Preudhomme is first mentioned in connection with the Roentgen workshop in 1776. The small Roentgen clock in the David Collection, Copenhagen, is also signed by Preudhomme.

[4] I am grateful to Ian D. Fowler, Anna Geyko, Mikhail Guryev, and Tamara Rappe for sharing information with me about Jean Thomas.
Inscription: Inscribed on dial: Jean Thomas/Petersbourg
Private Collection , New York ; The Ruth Stanton Family Foundation (until 2002; to MMA)
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