The society jeweller Peter Dutens supplied this highly decorated rococo mantel clock to Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1736.

The bill, preserved in the Duchy of Cornwall Archives, records the cost as 61 pounds and two shillings. The ormolu case, imported from Paris by Dutens at a cost of 11 guineas, houses a movement signed by the renowned royal clockmaker Charles Clay. Clay, who was born in Yorkshire, was appointed clockmaker to His Majesty’s Board of Works in 1723 and is best remembered for his musical timepieces, including the monumental organ clock in the Royal Collection. Clay designed the innovative clock dial to show the days, months and signs of the zodiac. This enamelled dial was the most expensive part of the clock, for which Dutens paid 20 guineas. The gold sun at the centre of the dial cost four guineas, and the friezes on the case and glass cost two guineas. Dutens paid Clay 18 guineas for the movement itself. Such complete documentation is rare for a clock assembled in England at this date. The rococo case is surmounted by an eagle defeating a winged dragon, and the dial is framed by shells, flowers and scrolls.

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Provenance

Supplied to Frederick, Prince of Wales by Peter Dutens, 1736; by descent until 1843 when acquired by the dealer John Boykett of Jarman and sold to Sir Richard Charles Henry Rycroft; unknown whereabouts; exhibited by Edward Hurst at Masterpiece 2015.


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