This clock was exhibited at the Tentoonstelling van Oude Kunst in the Rijksmuseum in 1929 in the exhibition catalogue the clock is discribed as number 789 Staande Speelklok van mahoniehout, versierd met guirlandes en ramskoppen en met een manskop in medaillon. Van boven koepelvormig en bekroond met de verguld-houten figuren van den Tijd en het Leven. De plaat geëmailleerd en met mechanische figuurtjes. Speelwerk met 12 aria's. Gemerkt ,,Jan Hendrik Kuhn''. Tijdperk Lodewijk XVI. Tweede helft 18e eeuw. Hoogte 300 c.m..
On 31 May 1960 the clock is offered as lot 1252 at auction house Mak van Waay in Amsterdam with a very similar description and an illustration.
The clockmaker Jan Hendrik Kuhn, born circa 1751 in the German town of Lübeck worked as master clockmaker in Amsterdam and had his workshop in the Kalverstraat near the Heiligeweg in Amsterdam, probably from 1786 until his death in 1810. In old inventories watches, bracket clocks and long case clocks of his hand are known. In 1775 an advertisement is issued mentioning a musical long case clock playing on strings with a complicated automaton mechanism, the following years other advertisements are known in which he recommends his long case clocks. Kuhn can be considered as a specialist in making long case clocks. It is striking that in most of the advertisements or records of Kuhns' long case clocks complicated musical and automaton movements are mentioned. This can be explained by the fact that there was a lot of interest in the late 18th Century in mechanical Konststukken (objects of art) with musical and moving parts. In 1789 Kuhn is recorded as the famous Konstwerker J.H. Kuhn. In the inventory of Kuhns workshop, made in 1798, two longcase clocks are recorded both with bewegingen (moving parts) and one of them with a musical movement. Overall Kuhn can be considered as one of the most important makers of Konsthorologien in Amsterdam during the last quarter of the 18th Century.
These clock types can be considered as important 'conversation pieces' and therefore had fine cases of outstanding quality. From 1780 onwards the cases of Kuhn were made in mahogany decorated with carvings and mouldings, following the latest fashion. The well executed foliate carvings of the dome, the ram's head, laurel garlands and rosettes of the trunk door are good examples of the Dutch Louis XVI style of the late 18th Century.
The monumental case with the architectural designs of the dome and pediment and fine quality carving reflects all characteristics of Kuhns' craftsmanship. Together with the finely painted dial and well engraved chapter ring signed Jan Hendrik Kuhn/Amsterdam this clock can be considered as one of the most elaborate and impressive clocks made by Kuhn.
The unusual large case does not only give this clock much of its grandeur but is also of great importance for the musical quality of the clock. The large hood and the massive walnut seat board indicates that this clock was specially made to have a movement with an organ. Unfortunately the original movement and organ are now lacking and are replaced by a later musical movement playing on bells.
However this clock is a fine and rare example of an unusual large Dutch long case clock with a good automaton, fine painted dial and well engraved chapter ring by Jan Hendrik Kuhn.
See also: R.J. Baarsen, 'De Horlogemaker Jan Hendrik Kühn', Bulletin Rijksmuseum, 31 jaargang, no.2, 1983, pp.105-115.
We are grateful to Mr. Melgert Spaander, Zutphen for his help in cataloguing this lot.