Sunday, 8 December 2013

Clocks of Versailles

Clocks were a very difficult and intricate piece of technology but by this time a clock did not merely have to tell the time they also had to be a great work of art and preferably with an extra little finesse to set it apart. Versailles is filled with many clocks which blends in perfectly at Versailles but is magnificent pieces in themselves.

This is the astronomical clock delivered to Louis XV in 1750 and is the design of Claude-Siméon Passemant. Not only does this clock shows "average time" and "real time" but also the date, the phases of the moon and the movements of the planets according to the Copernican theory. This clock is designed to work until 31st December 9999! Notice the crystal orb above the actual clock. It contains the Earth and its rotation but that is not all - each country's border is engraved on the bronze ball and the main cities highlighted!

Louis XIV was offered this clock by its creator Antoine Morand in 1706. The fascinating thing is that we can see through the mechanism and in this way the entire clockwork is exposed through the four glass windows all around the cabinet. There is a gilded figure of Louis XIV crowned by Victory. This clock has a neat little trick of its own; on certain fixed times during the day a mechanism would trigger a reaction causing small robots to perform a little "play". The clouds part and the doors opens to display a dwarf laughing. Small fleur-de-lis adorns the very top of the cabinet itself.

The work of Lepaute Jean-Baptiste this clock made of white marble, bronze and glass was in the collection of the Comte d'Artois but is now exhibited in the Queen's Golden Cabinet. Its main decoration are the two sphinxes that flanks the clock itself as well as the Comte's monogram which is written in gilded letters on a dark background right underneath the clock. If you look closer you can find symbols of science and small cornucopias.

This clock still stands on its original place in the hall where the treaty that ended the American war of independence was signed in 1783. Therefore it is very likely that this clock was designed for Louis XVI. The three dials within the pyramid shows the phases of the moon, the month and the dates. The two women each holds something in their hands: one holds a book on which the words "Peace Process 1783" has been engraved and the other holds a blank piece of paper and a compass. The whole thing is topped with a little ball of white marble.

This clock was made by Martinot and is now placed in the King's Council Chamber. It was delivered in 1754 and might have been commissioned by Louis XV. Previously it was a part of the King's apartments at Fontainebleau.

Charles-Nicolas Dutertre was the man behind this pretty little clock which is a part of the Queen's Interior Apartments. It was delivered in 1739 which means that if it was made for the Queen it would have been commissioned by Marie Leszczynska.

More to come...

1 comment:

  1. I work in a Museum in Colombia and would love to know about your a criteria of conservation is regarding your collection of clocks. I visitor mentioned that all of them are working and I was wondering if you have them working all the time, and if you have any concern in the mechanism wear.
    Thank you
    my email is