The eight-day, spring-wound movement of this timepiece, signed “J. Thuret,” was most likely the work of Isaac II Thuret, clockmaker to Louis XIV and a member of an important family of horologists. In May 1691 he organized a lottery with a repeater clock on a pedestal as first prize. This piece was fitted with a barometer and, in addition, was richly decorated with gilt bronze. It appears to have been very similar to the Museum’s clock and gives a good indication of its date. Just like the first prize in the lottery, the Museum’s clock was intended to hold a barometer in its pedestal (see detail far right). Five inscriptions near the top alluding to various weather conditions, ranging from tourment[e] (tempest) to tres sec (very dry), form the perimeter of the dial of a barometer, although the piece appears never to have been used as such.
The case and pedestal of the clock, ornamented with marquetry of tortoiseshell, brass, and pewter, have been attributed to the royal ébéniste André-Charles Boulle, “who makes a sort of Mosaick works extremely neat, and which the Curious preserve very choicely,” according to Germain Brice’s popular guidebook of 1687, A New Description of Paris. Boulle is known to have made numerous clock cases in his workshop, which was housed in the Palais du Louvre, not far from the lodgings of the influential artist Jean Bérain. Some of Bérain’s engraved designs were used for the decoration of this clock. There is a striking harmony between the ornament of the case and of the dial. The timepiece is surmounted by royal symbols in gilt bronze: a sunburst with a mask of the sun god Apollo, a crown, and a pair of lyres, as well as a pair of cornucopias, the traditional symbol of abundance. Although all these emblems clearly refer to the Sun King and his reign, no royal provenance for this clock has been established.
[Daniëlle Kisluk-Grosheide, 2010]
Footnotes:  Germain Brice. A New Description of Paris: Containing a Particular Account of All the Churches, Palaces, Monasteries...with All Other Remarkable Matters in That Great and Famous City. London, 1687, pp. 20–21.
Signature: Engraved on dial in script:  J. Thuret; Engraved on brass backing of movement in script:  J. Thuret AParis
Inscription: Inlaid on door of pedestal: TOVRMENT PLVVIEVX CHANGEANT BEAVTEMP TRESSEC; Modern sticker on back of pedestal: 3438
Charles Maurice Camille de Talleyrand-Périgord Duc de Dino ; [ Stiebel Ltd. , New York, until 1958; sold to MMA ]
Artist: André Charles Boulle (French, Paris 1642–1732 Paris)Date: ca. 1710–20Medium: Walnut veneered with ebony, marquetry of engraved brass and tortoiseshell, gilt-bronze mounts, verd antique marbleAccession: 1982.60.82On view in:Gallery 542
Artist: after a design by André Charles Boulle (French, Paris 1642–1732 Paris)Date: late 18th centuryMedium: Oak and pine veneered with ebony and marquetry of tortoiseshell, brass, and pewter; gilt bronze; Porto marbleAccession: 1974.391.1a, bOn view in:Gallery 524
Artist: Probably by André Charles Boulle (French, Paris 1642–1732 Paris)Date: late 17th centuryMedium: Ebony, brass, and tortoiseshell, gilt-bronze and tooled red leather topAccession: 37.160.7On view in:Not on view
Artist: Attributed to André Charles Boulle (French, Paris 1642–1732 Paris)Date: ca. 1700Medium: Oak veneered with Macassar and Gabon ebony, ebonized fruitwood, burl wood, and marquetry of tortoiseshell and brass; gilt bronzeAccession: 59.108On view in:Gallery 531