Wall Clock / Chantilly Porcelain Manufactory
Wall Clock (Pendule d'alcove)
Movement by Charles Voisin (French, 1685–1761), clockmaker; clock case made at the Chantilly Porcelain Manufactory
French, Paris and Chantilly, about 1740
Soft-paste porcelain; gilt bronze; enameled metal; glass
2 ft. 5 1/2 in. x 1 ft. 2 in. x 4 3/8 in.
81.DB.81
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Questions for Teaching

• What do you see? Where do you see it? (top, bottom, right side, left side)
• What do you see that is from nature? (flowers, leaves, branches, animals)
• What do you see that is not from nature (or man made)? (clock hands, chain around monkey's neck)
• What animals do you see? (dragon, monkey, duck)
• Which animals are real? Which are imaginary?
• What are the animals doing? (climbing, standing, twisting around the clock)
• What sounds do these animals make? (roaring, laughing, quacking)
• What colors can you see? (green, yellow, orange, blue, violet, gold)

Background Information

The Chantilly porcelain manufactory made this ornate clock case of soft-paste porcelain. The Chantilly porcelain manufactory was established in France in about 1725 by Louis-Henri de Bourbon (1692–1740), Prince de Condé. The prince owned a large collection of Japanese porcelain, which the factory used as models for its earliest productions. By the time this unique clock was made, the factory had developed its own whimsical interpretations of Asian motifs, combining an exotic dragon and monkey with European flowers.

Clock movements such as this one, designed for the alcoves of bedchambers (pendules d'alcove), were fitted with a cord that struck the nearest hour and a quarter when pulled. This mechanism eliminated the need to light a candle to tell the time.

About the Chantilly Porcelain Manufactory

The Prince de Condé established a porcelain factory at his ch√Ęteau at Chantilly after leaving Paris, where he served as the French king Louis XV's chief minister from 1723 to 1726. The prince was only one of several aristocrats who established factories in France and Germany in the 1700s, searching for the elusive recipe for true porcelain such as that produced in China and Japan. The factory's early production consisted of pieces painted in imitation of Japanese ceramics, probably copied directly from the prince's substantial collection. Other designs adapted simplified Eastern motifs, often inaccurately, to create brightly colored, richly patterned works. Chantilly's early works were made from soft-paste porcelain covered with an opaque tin glaze that produced a lustrous background for the painted decoration in enamel colors. The manufactory specialized in delicately modeled jugs, tureens, plates, teapots, and cups and saucers shaped like leaves. They also produced more fanciful designs, such as bald smiling Chinese figures, sometimes squatting beside vases that serve as potpourri or perfume burners. After the prince's death in 1740 removed the factory's chief financial support, Chantilly's fortunes began to waver; as a result, the wares became less innovative.