Watch

Maker: Watchmaker: Johannes van Ceulen (Dutch, active 1675–1715)

Enameler: Painted enamel possibly by Henri Toutin (French, 1614–1684)

Enameler: Raised enamel possibly by I. Josias Belle (French, 1624–1695)

Date: ca. 1676–80

Culture: Dutch, The Hague movement with French, Paris case

Medium: Case: painted enamel on gold, and raised enamel on gold; Movement: gilded brass, partly blued steel, and silver

Dimensions: Diameter (case): 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm); Diameter (back plate): 1 15/16 in. (4.9 cm)

Classification: Horology

Credit Line: Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917

Accession Number: 17.190.1417

Description

Van Ceulen lived in a house opposite that of the Huygens family in The Hague and briefly cooperated with the great Dutch mathematician Christiaan Huygens. This watch incorporates the spiral spring balance invented by Huygens in 1675. Its application to the watch is a unique design by Van Ceulen, and we know that Christiaan’s brother, Constantijn, owned a watch with a similar movement in 1676. Dutch predilection for enameled watchcases had a long history. The enameled relief ornament on the side of the case of this watch closely resembles the work of the Paris goldsmith Josias Belle (1628–1695), though he is not known as an enamel painter. The two circular panels with narrative scenes from the Old Testament story of Isaac and Rebecca are separate elements. They are undoubtedly of French origin, but their authorship remains anonymous.

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