Exhibiting distinctive eagle and quarter-fan inlay, free-standing colonnettes and fluted quarter columns, this is a very fine example of a popular Federal form. Several decorative features are characteristic of Embree's work and distinguish it from other Federal examples: these include the eagle-inlay and the double-peaked door. The bell shape of the bonnet was of English origin but became popular in Federal New York.
A virtually identical clock was sold in the King Hooper sale, held on December 3-4, 1931 by National Art Galleries in New York [Fig. 1]. A second closely related example is located in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House and is illustrated in both Distin and Bishop, The American Clock (New York, 1976), no. 12 and Betty C. Monkman, The White House, Its Historic Furnishings and First Families (Washington, 2000). The form appears to have been a favorite of Embree, and several examples are known, with five of these in permanent museum collections such as the Brooklyn Museum, the Henry Ford Museum, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), Boscobel Museum and the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut.
Effingham Embree was born in 1759, and was in partnership with the New York firm of Pearsall and Embree prior to establishing his own business in New York in 1780. A few surviving examples exhibit musical movements and moving elements in the arch of the dial.