This delicately painted and richly mounted clock is one of a distinct group of porcelain vase-form clocks. It is interesting that a number of these clocks have foreign-made movements, suggesting that this highly ornate design was developed for the foreign market. It seems possible that the cases were made in France and exported without movements. Among the other examples of this model are:
1. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (Jones Collection) with a body of decorated Svres porcelain (no. 1005-1882; see O. Brackett, Catalogue of the Jones Collection, Part I, London, 1922, pl. 60, no. 259). This example has a polychrome-painted porcelain body, similar to the example offered here. The mounts have traditionally been attributed to Gouthire.
2. An example with a grey-ground porcelain body from the collection of Sir Michael Sobell sold Christie's London, 23 June 1994, lot 12.
3. A polychrome painted example sold anonymously Christie's London, 22 June 1989, lot 35. The dial and backplate were both signed by Franois-Louis Godon (matre in 1787), horloger to Charles IV of Spain, who reigned 1788-1808.
4. An example formerly in the collection of J. Pierpont Morgan sold Parke-Bernet, New York, 8 January 1944 (=3rd day), lot 490 (illustrated). This clock has a similar polychrome-painted porcelain body and female busts mounts at the sides. The dial and movement signed Dupont Late Emery's, are English and date to the late 1790's.
6. The Princes Dolgourouky, St. Petersburg, in the 19th century.
7. Muse Cognac-Jay, Paris (no. 390; see: Catalogue, 1930, illustrated facing p. 140). This clock has a white porcelain body.
8. An example with matching pair of candelabra illustrated in A. Gonzalez-Palacios, Il Tempio del Gusto, Roma e il Regno delle due Sicilie, Milan, 1986, vol. II, P. 397, fig. 845, the movement signed by Joseph Gay, a French clockmaker based in Turin.
The example offered here is unique among this group, having goat's head mounts at the sides instead of the female masks found on the other examples, and is also the only clock among this group with the charming feature of a chain-suspended quiver of arrows which hangs from the base of the body. Benjamin Vulliamy, (1747-1811) maker of the movement of this clock, was primarily known by his position as Royal clockmaker to George III.
Though there is no record of its manufacture or original sale, there is a reference in the Vulliamy Day Books to the clock being cleaned, on 19 June 1812, for William Phillips, Esq. It is described as 'a French Spring Clock name Vulliamy 279 in a China Case', confirming the early association of case and movement.
We would like to thank Roger Smith for his kind assistance in preparing this catalogue entry. Mr. Smith is currently preparing a detailed study of the Vulliamy firm for future publication.