Sunday, September 22, 2013

Precious Time: The Romilly Pastoral Watch, 1760

French, 1760
The Victoria & Albert Museum

This watch is truly a treat for the eyes. A masterpiece of enamelled gold is a quarter-repeating watch with panels meant to imitate moss agate. The reverse is painted with a playful interior scene of a handsome flute player surrounded by three others. The composition is quite intricate as a large armoire is shown to the left near a square stone column. These are counter-balanced by a cascade of pale purple silk taffeta which flows into the composition from the upper right.

Made in France, it’s a grand example of the practice of painting portrait miniatures in enamels which developed out of the decorative work of goldsmiths and watchmakers in the French cities of Blois, Châteaudun and Paris. This delicate watch is the work of the celebrated Jean Romilly.

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