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© The Frick Collection
© The Frick Collection© The Frick Collection© The Frick Collection
Case: André-Charles Boulle  (1642–1732)
Movement: Isaac Thuret  (1630–1706)
Movement: or Jacques Thuret  (1669–1738)
Barometer Clock, ca. 1690–1700
Ebony, turtle shell, brass, gilt bronze, and enamel
45 1/4 x 23 1/8 x 10 1/4 in. (114.9 x 58.7 x 26 cm)
Bequest of Winthrop Kellogg Edey, 1999
Accession number: 1999.5.148
Currently on View
Library (137)
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This clock illustrates the high degree of crafts­manship and originality in the designs of the artisans who served Louis XIV. The movement, by either Isaac Thuret or his son, Jacques Thuret— each of whom held the position of clockmaker to the king—is set within a case by André-Charles Boulle, the celebrated cabinetmaker to Louis XIV. Both the Thurets and Boulle occupied workshops in the Palace of the Louvre. Their royal appoint­ments made it possible to work outside the strict regulations of the French guild system, in which a craftsman could open his own workshop only after attaining the status of master. Such a workshop produced objects exclusively within the specialty of the master craftsman. A royal craftsman, exempt from this rule, was free to cross boundar­ies into other fields, therefore controlling all aspects of the production from design to decora­tion. For this barometer clock, Boulle not only built the case—covering it with a turtle-shell veneer with inlays of engraved brass and pewter— he also designed, chased, and gilded the highly original gilt-bronze mounts that adorn the piece. He crowned the clock with a Greco-Roman oil lamp with a satyr’s head and placed an Egyptian sphinx on each side of the base, which rests on spiral turrets. Boulle’s embrace of the antique— classical and Egyptian—represents a central aspect of the style that prevailed during the reign of the Sun King.

Source: Vignon, Charlotte. The Frick Collection Decorative Arts Handbook. New York: The Frick Collection/Scala, 2015.