Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Precious Time: The John Jones Elephant Clock, 1760

Table Clock
Martinot and Caffieri for Marchands Merciers
Paris, 1760
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The movement for this handsome table clock was created by Jerome Martinot (1671-1724). The case was designed by Philippe Caffieri (1714-1774). The entire piece was assembled by Marchands Merciers in Paris around 1760. The firm was known for its luxurious time pieces which included such fine materials as bronze, horn, porcelain and ormolu. Some even included an organ in the base. Although the surface chasing on the V&A's example is not of the highest quality, this may be explained by later regilding.

This clock suffered some questionable Nineteenth Century alterations which included a new base, a new dial and a pretty shoddy re-gilding. Nevertheless, it’s still an attractive piece with its drum of chased ormolu surmounted by the seated figure of a draped monkey holding a parasol and a horn. The drum rests on the back of a bronze elephant who is perched upon a base of ormolu rockwork and a rectangular stand of ebony and ormoulu. The case is signed "fait par Caffieri" and on the back of the movement, it is marked "Jerome Martinot a Paris."

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