This extraordinary clock, with its strikingly tall, term-like case, must have been especially commissioned for a particular setting. The two oval escutcheons were probably intended to be painted with the coats-of-arms of the original owner or owners of the clock; these may never have been executed, or they have subsequently been obliterated. The lively figures of Time and the two boys surmounting the case, as well as the beautifully carved laurel-wreathed skull of Death victorious, the winged mask in the front and the delicate ornament throughout, suggest that the case was produced in the workshop of a highly skilled sculptor whose identity sadly remains unknown. South German carved clock-cases with sculpted figures include the series of four rococo examples executed under the direction of Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer and his successor, Johann Georg Dirr, for the abbot's study at Salem around 1764 (Hans-Jürgen Schulz, Salem, Ehemalige Reichsabtei, Zürich, 1983, pp.46-47) and Dirr's famous neo-classical case for an astronomical clock for Salem of 1770, now in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Munich (Renate Eikelmann (ed.), Handbuch Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich, 2000, p.255). The ornament on the present, earlier case is much more French in feeling than even the early production of Feuchtmayer and his circle. It reflects the influence of the designs of François Cuvilliés (1695-1768) who was active in Munich, and even recalls the work of the brilliant Mannheim sculptor Paul Egell (see Klaus Lankheit, Der kurpfälzische Hofbildhauer Paul Egell 1691-1752, Munich, 1988). The winged satyr's mask and the shell and fan-like motifs belong to the Régence repertoire, but everything is pervaded by a subtle asymmetry, and some elements actually turn into rocailles. The delicacy and spiritedness of the carving make this clock-case a prime example of early South German rococo.
We are grateful to Dr. Reinier Baarsen for his help in preparing this catalogue entry.