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Wall Clock (Pendule à Répétition)
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Movement by Jean-Jacques Fiéffé, clockmaker; clock case by Unknown ébéniste; possibly after Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, designer
French, Paris, 1735 - 1740
Gilt bronze, enameled metal, wood carcass, glass
H: 4 ft. 4 1/2 in. x W: 2 ft. 2 1/2 in. x D: 5 5/8 in.
72.DB.89

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The clock's swirling leaves and asymmetrical overall design are typical of the work of Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, a designer and goldsmith and one of the leading exponents of the Rococo style. In an engraved book of Meissonnier's works, published about 1750, the antechamber wall in a cross-section of a house features a large clock with a reclining figure below the dial positioned like that on the Getty Museum's clock.

Such clocks, also known as pendules d'alcove (alcove clocks), were usually small, suitable for hanging in an alcove above a bed. The repeating mechanisms that chimed the nearest hour and quarter hour when a string was pulled eliminated the need to light a candle to see the dial. They also prevented the constant chiming that would awaken a sleeper. This is the largest known example of the pendule d'alcove, indicating that it was made for an extremely imposing interior.

The figures on this clock represent Love conquering Time, a theme often repeated on mid-eighteenth century French clocks. The two cherubs above carry away the scythe and hourglass, the symbols of Time, while Time himself lies vanquished below with his globe, protractor, and pair of compasses.

Detail Views

Enamel dial
Enamel dial

Backplate of the movement
Backplate of the movement