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Over the centuries, clockmaking has evolved not just in precision and technical capability but also as an art form. With imagination of design and decoration, Pendules a sujet clocks with movements that rested on the backs of animals from the 18th century and the pendules mysterieuses of the Blois clockmaker Robert Houdin of the 19th century contributed to clocks as precious works of art and not just functional timepieces. The first quarter of the twentieth century produced some of the most spectacular clocks ever seen with the world's leading jewelry houses taking over from the traditional clockmaker. These were times of fantasy with no expense spared, precious metals and jewels being used in new and imaginative designs. It is fitting that the earliest clock in this exceptional collection is by Cartier, as it was this firm that arguably led the way in this artform. The Belle Epoque period was one of grace and nostalgia and the refined elegance of the guilloché enamel combined with the charming message around the dial evokes the image of a time almost untouchable with prosperity and optimism. With a complicated quarter repeating movement this clock is a rare and wonderful example of technical excellence and beauty. The imagination of the Art Deco period brought new and fresh ideas to every aspect of design. Old ways were abandoned with shapes and color challenged in so many ways. LaCloche Frères was one of the great Parisian jewelers, perhaps most well known for their Egyptian revival jewelry they also produced exceptional objects that could rival any house in the world. The fountain clock here perfectly illustrates the fantasy world of the Art Deco period and the lateral thought that went behind these new designs. A carved black opal fish "swims" around the perimeter of the horizontal dial of water in a fountain indicating the time. Not to be eclipsed by their European cousins, American jewelry houses were also at the forefront of this exciting era and the New York firm Black Starr & Frost made a small number of pieces that were able to rival the Atelier's of Paris. Black Starr & Frost is the oldest jewelry house in America and although originally founded in Savannah, Georgia in 1801 they moved their premises to New York a few years later to enjoy the growth of this young and exciting city. Arguably the most spectacular clock in this collection is the triptych pedestal block with a simple plain exterior that when opened displays a shock of color and decoration with panels displayed in the oriental manner highlighted with carved lapis lazuli figures. The other example of their work is an extremely rare mystery clock with diamond set hands that appear to float in air. The perimeter of the dial is decorated with mother of pearl and hardstone, which is the work of Vladimir Makovsky (1884-1966). The son of an artistic Russian family he worked in France throughout the Art Deco period and was commissioned on both sides of the Atlantic. His miniature scenes are based on lacquer, hardstone and mother-of-pearl inlays of the 18th and 19th centuries showing Islamic friezes and miniatures as well as European narrative genre scenes. His work is seen on many types of Art Deco objects including clocks, vanity cases and cigar boxes. These four clocks are a wonderful representation of the clockmaker's art in the earlier part of the twentieth century and stand as testament to the will of human nature never content on settling for the ordinary.

A CHARMING ENAMEL, AGATE AND DIAMOND REPEATER DESK CLOCK, BY CARTIER The circular white enamel dial with black Roman and Arabic chapters and rose-cut diamond arrow hands, within a white enamel and rose-cut diamond frame depicting the motto "TIME PASSES AND THOUGHTS REMAIN," within a pink guilloché enamel case, enhanced by white enamel trim and rose-cut diamond florets, the top decorated with a rose-cut diamond initial H, and cabochon sapphire pushpiece, on a shaped agate base, mounted in silver and gold, (with a key numbered 11713), 1909, 47/8 x 3 x 25/8 ins., in a fitted leather case signed Cartier Dial signed Cartier
Sold to Mrs. Marshall Field, Chicago
Lit. Hans Nadelhoffer, "Cartier," Thames and Hudson, London, 1984, page 20

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