Naturalistic and expertly rendered, the rococo ornament on this tall-case clock illustrates the sophistication and talents of James Reynolds (1736-1794), one of Philadelphia's most significant carvers working during the latter eighteenth century. Patronized by the likes of General John Cadwalader and President George Washington, Reynolds was in the city's uppermost echelon of immigrant carvers. Only a few other identified carvers of the era produced work of comparable quality and along with John Pollard, Hercules Courtenay and Martin Jugiez, Reynolds introduced to Philadelphia the latest furniture and interior designs from Europe.
Based on details of execution and design, the carving's attribution to Reynolds is based on close similarities to pieces attributed to his hand prior to 1775. More than other carvers, Reynolds made extensive use of parallel gouge cuts or fluting to indicate shading or receding planes. These successive cuts are placed perpendicular to the flow of the design and are seen on this clock on the leafy passages extending from C-scrolls. Described by Luke Beckerdite as "a more unusual application of the technique," the use of the cuts in these areas is a distinctive feature of Reynolds' work and appears on four of the five known looking glasses firmly attributed by Beckerdite to Reynolds: A looking glass made for John Cadwalader in 1771 (figs. 1, 2), a pair of pier glasses and a girandole made for the Chief Justice Benjamin Chew probably in 1772 and a looking glass owned by Richard Edwards (Luke Beckerdite, "Philadelphia Carving Shops, Part I: James Reynolds," The Magazine Antiques (May 1984), pp. 1122, 1125-1126, frontispiece, figs. 7c, 9, 10; Luke Beckerdite, "American Rococo Looking Glasses: From Maker's Hand to Patron's Home," American Furniture 2009, Luke Beckerdite, ed. (Milwaukee, WI, 2009), pp. 11-13, 16-18, figs. 13, 15, 18-20; Nicholas B. Wainwright, Colonial Grandeur: The House and Furniture of General John Cadwalader (Philadelphia, 1964), pp. 124-125; Christie's New York, 19-20 January 1990, lot 690). The treatment of the volutes at the end of the C-scrolls on this clock is also indicative of Reynolds' work. Each volute is raised with a sharply receding center and is like those on much of the carver's work during this time including the looking glasses above and a gilded wall bracket discussed below (Beckerdite 1984, pp. 1123-1124). Another detail seen on the carving of this clock and that of other work attributed to Reynolds is the naturalistic rendering of the stems adjoining the flowers. Similar angular stems with irregular modeling and knob-like protrusions are seen on this clock, the looking glasses discussed above and another looking glass carved by Reynolds for the Fisher family (Beckerdite 1984, p. 1124, fig. 8; Beckerdite 2009, p. 14, fig. 16; for contrast, see a looking glasses with smooth, flowing stems attributed to John Pollard, Beckerdite 2009, pp. 9-10, figs. 10-11). Little case furniture with Reynolds' carving is known, but a very similar tall-case clock with works by Thomas Wagstaffe was previously owned and advertised by David Stockwell. This related clock has C-scroll and foliate carving in the arch directly above the dial like that seen on the clock offered here; the carving above the arch on the related clock is replaced and based upon the design seen on this clock (the related clock is in the files of the Decorative Arts Photographic Collection at Winterthur Museum; Christie's is grateful to Alan Miller for this information).
Other celebrated forms carved by Reynolds further demonstrate his stature and reveal his frequent collaboration with the cabinetmaker, Thomas Affleck (1740-1795), a likely candidate for the maker of the case of this clock. A gilded wall bracket (fig. 3) closely follows a design in Thomas Johnson's One Hundred and Fifty New Designs (London, 1756-1758; reiussed 1761) and indicates that for those Philadelphians with sufficient means, the stylish fashions of London were readily available (for a discussion on the bracket, see Beckerdite 1984, p. 1125; Morrison H. Heckscher and Leslie Greene Bowman, American Rococo, 1750-1775: Elegance in Ornament (New York, 1992), p. 190, no. 128, fig. 129; see also "James Reynolds," Philadelphia: Three Centuries of American Art (Philadelphia, 1976), p. 120). General John Cadwalader certainly had the means and in addition to the looking glass discussed above owned an elaborate pair of "commode" card tables attributed to Affleck and with carving attributed to Reynolds. The collaboration of Reynolds and Affleck is further documented in Affleck's 1771 bill of work done for Cadwalader, which included L37 to be paid to Reynolds, as well as L24 to be paid to Bernard and Jugiez (Beckerdite 1984, pp. 1126-1128, figs. 13, 14). A year later, Affleck and Reynolds worked together on a suite of furniture made for Sarah Logan upon her marriage to Thomas Fisher in 1772. As recorded in the cashbook of Sarah's father, William Logan, Affleck was paid L72-15-0, of which L50 was for Reynolds' carving. This suite probably included a magnificent high chest now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a sculptural and asymmetric bird finial attributed to Reynolds and a bold and dramatically carved tea table (Morrison H. Heckscher, American Furniture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1985), cat. 147; Heckscher and Bowman, pp. 204-206, no. 143; Christie's New York, 27 January 1996, lot 239). While Affleck stands as the most likely maker of the case, Reynolds also had dealings with the cabinetmaker Benjamin Randolph (1737-1791), as did a John Morgan, who may be the person of the same name who is thought to have been the first (or an early) owner of the clock (see below). However, Morgan's transaction with Randolph, recorded in April 1766, occurred before the arrival of Reynolds and thus is not a reference to this clock (Andrew Brunk, correspondence and "Benjamin Randolph Revisted," American Furniture 2007, Luke Beckerdite, ed. (Milwaukee, WI, 2007).
James Reynolds and his wife, Elizabeth, arrived in Philadelphia in August, 1766 and until his death in 1794, he enjoyed a successful career and the respect of his fellow citizens. Less than a month after his arrival, he advertised his gilding and carving business on Dock Street and by November of the same year, he was a member of Christ Church. During the ensuing years, he operated his business out of various locations, including Front Street between Walnut and Chestnut and Third Street between Market and Arch. In addition to those mentioned above, his clients included many of the most prominent figures in Philadelphia, such as Governor John Penn, Joseph Pemberton, Samuel Powell and, in 1791 and 1793, President George Washington to whom he sold pictures, frames, looking glasses, brackets and ornamental carving. In 1788, he along with Martin Jugiez represented carvers in the Grand Federal Procession and on October 27, 1794, the notice of his death and funeral, which was attended by "a number of respectable citizens," appeared in the American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia, pp. 119-120; Beckerdite 1984, pp. 1120-1132).
The clock's works, original to the case, are signed by William Anderson (d. 1801) of Lancaster, England, located just north of the busy port of Liverpool. Anderson probably shipped a number of his dials to Philadelphia as at least one other clock with an elaborate Philadelphia case survives with works by the same maker (Philip H. Bradley Co., advertisement, The Magazine Antiques (May 2007), p. 62; G.H. Baillie, Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World (London, 1929), p. 6).
According to a family history that is recorded on a typed label inside the clock case, the clock was noted to have been owned by a Judge John Morgan. This individual has not been identified, but according to the label, he was a friend of Philadelphia mayor John Morin Scott (1789-1858), to whom he left this clock. The clock then descended in the Scott family and was given to Strawberry Mansion in 1975 by R. Alexander Montgomery, John Morin Scott's great great-grandson.