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A GERMAN ORMOLU-MOUNTED MAHOGANY AND GILTWOOD MUSICAL TALL-CASE CLOCK
A GERMAN ORMOLU-MOUNTED MAHOGANY AND GILTWOOD MUSICAL TALL-CASE CLOCK
A GERMAN ORMOLU-MOUNTED MAHOGANY AND GILTWOOD MUSICAL TALL-CASE CLOCK
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Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s F… Read more
A GERMAN ORMOLU-MOUNTED MAHOGANY AND GILTWOOD MUSICAL TALL-CASE CLOCK

CIRCLE OF DAVID ROENTGEN, THE MOVEMENT ATTRIBUTED TO PETER KINZING, CIRCA 1790-1800

Details
A GERMAN ORMOLU-MOUNTED MAHOGANY AND GILTWOOD MUSICAL TALL-CASE CLOCK
CIRCLE OF DAVID ROENTGEN, THE MOVEMENT ATTRIBUTED TO PETER KINZING, CIRCA 1790-1800
With two virgins, one holding a lyre behind a flaming urn on a stepped plinth over a frieze with frolicking putti and a drapery swag over a glazed door, the Arabic numeral dial below a barrel and with organ and hammer dulcimer marked du50, the paneled front and pierced sides with fabric-backed pierced latticework, molded plinth
98 ½ in. (250 cm.) high, 24 ¾ in. (63 cm.) wide, 19 ¾ in. (50 cm.) deep
Provenance
Acquired from Symons Gallery, New York, 1950s.
Special notice

Please note this lot will be moved to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services (CFASS in Red Hook, Brooklyn) at 5pm on the last day of the sale. Lots may not be collected during the day of their move to Christie’s Fine Art Storage Services. Please consult the Lot Collection Notice for collection information. This sheet is available from the Bidder Registration staff, Purchaser Payments or the Packing Desk and will be sent with your invoice.

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Lot Essay

The maker of this impressive tall-case clock clearly followed David Roentgen’s aesthetics popular in the late eighteenth century, when Roentgen’s oeuvre is characterized by simple lines and the use of beautifully figured mahogany embellished with high-quality ormolu mounts. The long-case clocks made by Roentgen were originally inspired by the third edition of Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinetmakers Director from 1762. However, the English cabinet-maker's influence was more pronounced in the clocks Roentgen produced in the early and mid-1770s whereas those produced from 1780 until the end of the decade, including those influencing the present lot, were almost exclusively decorated with a more severe neoclassical restraint. The overall shape of the lot offered here is very similar to that of many of Roentgen’s tall-case clocks, such as those illustrated J. M. Greber, Abraham und David Roentgen: Möbel für Europa, Vol. II, Starnberg, 1980, pp. 349-355. A large number of German and foreign craftsmen were inspired by Roentgen’s work and many of them created pieces remarkably similar to those manufactured by the Roentgen atelier, such as F. K. Starke in Marburg, whose design for a Musikalische Schlag Uhr depicts a tall-case clock resembling many of Roentgen’s creations as well as the clock offered here (see W. Koeppe, ed., Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens, New York, 2012, p. 204, fig. 91). Similarly to Starke, the maker of this clock must have been familiar with Roentgen’s works as many features on this clock can be found on a number of furnishings from the Roentgen workshop, such as the ormolu relief depicting putti and the gilt figural mount placed on top of the case. Roentgen often used costly ormolu figural groups to decorate his most exceptional and luxurious pieces, often parts of royal commissions, including tall-case clocks, desks, and cabinets. Such works are the famed Berlin secretary cabinet, the Apollo desk, and the Apollo clock, illustrated ibid., pp. 134, 155 and 203, respectively. In the case of this clock, the ormolu cresting is substituted with giltwood. What is most intriguing in this clock, however, is the size of the dial in relation to the musical movement and its presentation. The dial is much smaller than one would expect and the fact that so much of the musical movement is exposed suggests that the most valued feature of this piece was its ability to play music. The curtains cast in ormolu framing the opening of the top is not unlike those in a theater, further implying the idea that whenever the clock started to play music, the onlooker was about to witness a performance every hour on the hour or at will. When activated, the clock released a flute and strings playing mechanism driven by weights playing various tunes. The advanced and complicated nature of this clock’s movement suggests that it was made by an expert clock-maker such as Peter Kinzing, whose movements are closely related to the present one. A clock with a comparable musical movement by Kinzing was in the collection of Henry Francis du Pont and is currently at Nemours Estate, Wilmington.
Born in Neuwied and son of the cabinet-maker Abraham Roentgen (1711-1793), David Roentgen (1743-1807) was one of the greatest ébénistes of his age. He joined his father's workshop in 1757 and officially took control in 1772. Under his leadership it developed into a truly pan-European enterprise and he expanded his business in an unprecedented campaign no other 18th century furniture-maker could ever match. One of his first great international patrons was Charles, Duke of Lorraine (1712-1780), governor of the Austrian Netherlands, brother of the Emperor Francis I who was married to Maria Theresa and uncle of Queen Marie-Antoinette. In 1774 Roentgen visited Paris to get acquainted with the new neoclassical style, the latest development in the European capital of taste and fashion and by the late 1770s his furniture shows him to have adopted this new style entirely. In 1779, having sold several pieces of furniture both to King Louis XVI and to Marie-Antoinette, his efforts were rewarded with the courtesy title of ébéniste-mécanicien du Roi et de la Reine, a title that helped open doors to all the other European courts and Roentgen soon supplied furniture to many of the most discriminating aristocrats throughout Europe, including King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia, as well as the Electors of Hessen and Saxony, the Dukes of Württemberg and the Margraves of Baden.
Peter IV Kinzing (1745-1816), from a dynasty of clockmakers in Neuwied stretching from 1681 to 1861, married the daughter of the clockmaker Herman Achenbach and partly collaborated with his father-in-law until he took over his workshop in 1772. From 1755, the independent Kinzing workshop was already producing clocks together with the Roentgens. Almost all of David Roentgen's important clocks were made in collaboration with Kinzing, who also supplied Roentgen with other sophisticated mechanical works, including table pianos. Incidentally, the same year Marie-Antoinette purchased yet another clock from Roentgen and Kinzing for presentation to the Academy of Science (now Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers) in 1785, Roentgen was named Ébéniste mécanicien du Roi et de la Reine and Kinzing was named Horloger de la Reine.

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