Movement by Ferdinand Berthoud (French, 1727–1807); Case by Balthazar Lieutaud (French, ca. 1720–1780)
Case: oak veneered with ebony, with gilt-bronze mounts and glass panel; Dial: white enamel with black numerals; Movement: brass and steel
90 1/2 x 21 1/2 x 12 3/4 in. (229.87 x 54.61 x 32.39 cm)
The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982 (1982.60.50)
The case, designed in a severe Neoclassical style with added Chinese ornamental motifs, was made by one of the leading cabinetmakers, or ébénistes, of mid-eighteenth-century Paris. It is fitted with a tall glass panel in the trunk for the prominent display of the characteristically heavy French version of the gridiron pendulum that regulates the escapement of the movement. The dial displays hours, minutes, and seconds indicated by a spray of concentrically mounted hands. The minute hand, ornamented with a sunburst, was originally intended to show true solar time. (The hand for mean solar time is now missing.) Berthoud made a specialty of equation timepieces: clocks and watches that show both true solar time, which varies slightly according to the season of the year, and mean solar time, which does not. His first equation clock was approved by the French Académie des Sciences in 1752.