Planisphere Clock (Pendule à planisphère)

Object Details


Planisphere Clock (Pendule à planisphère)


Movement by Alexandre Fortier (French, about 1700 - 1770)
and case attributed to Jean-Pierre Latz (French, about 1691 - 1754)




Paris, France, Europe (Place created)


1745 to 1749


Oak veneered with kingwood; silvered brass; gilt-bronze mounts, glass; gilt paper


281.9 × 94 × 38.1 cm (111 × 37 × 15 in.)

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This elaborate timepiece demonstrates the level of astronomical knowledge of eighteenth-century French scientists. The large main dial is composed of overlapping circular plates and three hands that indicate the time with a twenty-four hour chapter ring, the months of the year and their zodiacal signs, the days of the lunar month, and the local time in various cities and parts of the world, including La Californie. The four smaller dials grouped above show the phases of the moon, a tidal calendar for the ports of Northern France, the days of the week, and the times of the eclipses of Jupiter's first moon, Io. On the top of the case, a gilt-wood orrery shows the relative positions and motions of bodies in the solar system.

Very few such elaborate clocks have survived to the present. Unfortunately this clock is no longer in working condition as the movement is entirely missing.

Paris: Life & Luxury (April 26, 2011 to January 2, 2012)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), April 26 to August 7, 2011
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, September 18, 2011 to January 2, 2012

"The Grand Gallery." Connoisseur (October 1974), p. 122.

Wilson, Gillian. "The J. Paul Getty Museum: 6ème partie: Les Meubles Baroques." Connaissance des Arts 279 (May 1975), p. 110.

The Grand Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art : sixth international exhibition (New York, 1975), p. 50, no. 44.

Miller, Carole Ann Lyons. "Clockwise Special Report: The J. Paul Getty Museum." Clockwise (August 1979), pp. 15-21, fig. 7.

Wilson, Gillian. Selections from the Decorative Arts in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983), pp. 36-37, no. 18.

Sassoon, Adrian, and Gillian Wilson. Decorative Arts: A Handbook of the Collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1986), p. 40, no. 86.

Verlet, Pierre. Les Bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle (Paris, 1987), p. 115, fig. 144.

Bremer-David, Charissa, et al. Decorative Arts: An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993), pp. 88-89, no. 138.

Wilson, Gillian, et al. European Clocks in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996), pp. 92-101, no. 13.

Augarde, Jean-Dominique. Les Ouvriers du Temps, La Pendule à Paris de Louis XIV à Napoléon Ier (Geneva, 1996), pp. 228-29, pl. 182.

Bremer-David, Charissa, ed. Paris: Life & Luxury in the Eighteenth Century, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011), pp. 20-21, 119, no. 19.

Related Media
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    Audio: Planisphere Clock / Bremer-David - Level 1 (Exhibit: PLL)
  • /
    Audio: Planisphere Clock / Bremer-David - Level 2 (Exhibit: PLL)