Watch in the form of a skull, ca. 1640–50
Movement by Isaac Penard (Swiss, 1619–1676)
Case and dial: silver, partly nielloed, with a single silver hand; Movement: gilded brass and steel; back plate of movement; 2 x 1 5/16 in. (5.1 x 3.3 cm); 1 1/16 x 1 in. (2.7 x 2.5 cm)
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.1575)
The lower jaw is hinged to the base of the skull to make a cover for the dial of the watch. The dial is engraved and filled with niello marking the hours with Roman numerals (I–XII) and the half hours with fleurs-de-lis. The skull watch was a specialty of Geneva, and to a lesser extent of Blois, both prominent centers of Protestant watchmakers during the first decades of the seventeenth century. Isaac Penard was a native Swiss who was apprenticed to the Genevan master Jacques Sermand (1595–1651), a well-known maker of skull watches as well as watches in such shapes as tulip buds, crosses, and stars.