A clock fit for a king
February 11, 2010
As we have talked about in previous posts this September and October, gifts from Willis R. and Ruth Michael of
Along with hundreds of historic clocks and watches made for everyday people, Willis Michael collected some extraordinary timepieces—including a clock fit for a king.
Engraved inscriptions on this clock’s face tell that the works were crafted by Henri de Martinot (1646–1725) and a Parisian mathematical instrument maker named Pouilly. An inscription on the back of the clock notes that Martinot worked at the Louvre—no surprise, since Martinot came from a distinguished and well-connected family of clockmakers. In fact, Henri succeeded his father as one of the king’s official clockmakers. When King Louis XIV died, he owned ten or more Martinot clocks.
There is no evidence to suggest that this clock was part of the royal collection. However, early clock historian F. J. Britten wrote that elements of the clock’s ornamentation point toward a royal patron for the piece, possibly Louis XIV of
Ornamentation aside, this clock has an intriguing mechanism. The clock not only tracked and displayed hours and minutes but it also called out feast days, eclipses, phases of the moon, months of the year and other information.
Willis Michael purchased this clock in
“For All Time” closes on February 21, so you have just a few weeks to enjoy this and the many other exciting clocks showcased in the exhibition.
Clock, works, 1690-1710, case 1665-1680. Henri de Martinot (1646–1725).
Willis Michael at his home in Red Lion,
I am grateful to Jonathan Snellenburg for his interesting description of this clock at the 2006 symposium organized by the New England Chapter of the NAWCC held at the
Old Clocks and Watches and Their Makers, F. J. Britten (E. & F. Spon, Limited:
Huygens’ Legacy: The Golden Age of the Pendulum Clocks, Hans van den Ende, (Fromanteel Ldt.: