17 June 2005
The Royal Pavilion, Brighton
George, Prince of Wales, first visited the fishing village of Brighthelmstone in 1783. He had been drawn by the attractions of seawater bathing and drinking, the benefits of which were being promoted by Dr Russell of Lewes. The increasing number of visitors to the town led to the building of ballrooms and gaming rooms for their entertainment and of comfortable houses to accommodate them. In 1786 the Prince rented Brighton House and it was this farmhouse that became the foundation of the Royal Pavilion.
In 1787 the Prince commissioned the architect Henry Holland to enlarge the house with a circular saloon and an additional wing. During the period 1801-03 the interiors were decorated in a chinoiserie style by the firm of Crace and still further additions were made. In 1815 John Nash was hired to make further extensions and to change the Pavilion according to a style based on Indian architecture. Two years later the distinctive tent-like roofs of the drawing and music rooms appeared.
By 1822 the Pavilions exterior of Bath stone had been finished and the following year the interior was completed. Work carried on until 1826 but after 1823 George (George IV since 1820) did not visit Brighton. Queen Victoria failed to appreciate the exuberant Pavilion and sold it to the town of Brighton in 1850.
Skeleton clocks modelled on the Brighton Pavilion show its central dome and were almost certainly made by Smiths of Clerkenwell in London, as their chapter rings, lion mounts and pendulums always closely resemble those shown in a Smiths catalogue.
A Victorian brass Brighton Pavilion striking skeleton clock
Attributed to Smiths of Clerkenwell. Circa 1870
With ormolu lions and eagle, on plush-covered base to ebonised plinth, formerly under glass dome, the silvered chapter ring with painted numerals, the eight day twin chain fusee movement with anchor escapement and strike on gong, wheels with five crossing; triple rod pendulum, winding key
22 in. (56 cm.) high
Sotheby's New York, Masterpieces from the Time Museum, Part Two, 19 June 2002, lot 198, Time Museum inventory no.44
Goldsmith Collection, Chicago.
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Derek Roberts, British Skeleton Clocks, Antique Collectors' Club, Woodbridge, 1987, pp.72-74, figs-32.
F.B. Royer-Collard, Skeleton Clocks, NAG Press, London, 1969, p.4, fig.1-2.
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