Pedestal clock

Artist or maker:
Boulle, the elder, André-Charles (b.1642, d.1732)
after design by Gilles-Marie Oppenord (b.1672, d.1742)
movement by George Graham (British, b.1674, d.1751)
repaired by G F Doubleday (British, active 1892)
dated by related objects
Place of production:
Paris, France
blackened oak carcase, veneered with ebony, tortoiseshell, and engraved brass; gilt and chased bronze mounts; enamel plaques in the dial
Type of object:
pedestal clocks
Accession number:


Actually composed of a separate case and pedestal, this clock demonstrates the unity that was achieved by one of the leading furniture workshops in early 18th-century Paris. The case has been attributed to André-Charles Boulle, the most celebrated cabinet-maker of the reign of Louis XIV.

The attribution was made on the basis of the similarity between the design on the back door panel and an armoire in the Wallace Collection which is securely attributed to Boulle. In contrast, the pedestal may have been made by one of his sons who collaborated with him in his workshop because of the use of plain tortoise-shell. Boulle was able to avoid guild regulations and work in both wood and metal because he was given lodgings in the Louvre by the King, which exempted him from the guilds' control. He developed the technique of using thin layers (veneers) of wood, tortoise-shell and brass to create sinuous patterns such as the ribbons, flowers and geometric shapes that appear on this clock case.
Modelled figures add to the decoration.

On the four corners of the clock case, there are representations of the four continents of the 18th-century world: Europe, Asia, America and Africa, all wearing clothing and carrying weapons associated with these different parts of the globe. The theme of all-encompassing geography is taken up in the medallion on the front of the pedestal: Atlas is passing the celestial globe, which it was his duty to carry, to Hercules who had to take the burden as part of a series of twelve seemingly impossible tasks or labours he was forced to undergo to gain his freedom. Hercules was half-mortal, half-god, and was celebrated for his strength. The decoration as a whole may have been intended to comment on the passage of the sun over the earth and through the heavens that marks the passing of time.
The figures of the Four Continents appeared on an earlier clock probably made by Alexandre-Jean Oppenord from a design by his son, Gilles-Marie Oppenord (now J. Paul Getty Museum, acc. no. 72.DA.40, see Wilson et al. 1996, pp. 28-41).

Three other contemporary clocks of the same design are known: one in the Wallace collection; one in the Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal, Paris and one in the Detroit Institute of Arts. These have been dated c. 1720-1735 (see Darr, Dell et al., 1996) A fourth in the J. Paul Getty Museum, was believed to be by Boulle, but is now considered to be a later forgery (Wilson et al., 1996, pp. 152-161).

In the 18th century, the Waddesdon clock was acquired by the renowned francophile, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, probably for Chesterfield House, London, which he furnished around 1748. It was probably purchased on his behalf by his dealer who travelled to Paris. The Earl's cipher appears underneath the dial, replacing the enamel cartouche that would have originally borne the clockmaker's name.

Phillippa Plock, 2012

Physical description

Dimensions (mm):
Overall height: 2873
Clock: 1238 x 662 x 302; dial: 286 (diam); plates: 190 x 208; distance between plates 66 mm
Pedestal: 1632 x 711 x 327
Geo: Graham London
Maker's mark
on the oval brass plate below the dial

Schmann / With G. F. Doubleday / Oct 10 / 1892
Repairer's mark
on the back of the dial plate, the mark of a repairer working in Aylesbury

C C / HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE [crowned by Earl's coronet]
Owner's mark
below the dial, in gilt-bronze, the Earl of Chesterfield's cipher

[...] 1842
Repairer's mark
on inner side of barrel lid, scratched out except for date 1842

One turn & half [=scratched out] 31 P[...]er
Repairer's mark
on reverse of rachet wheel

E. H. B. Aylesbury 1910
Repairer's mark
on reverse of dial

Cleaned by J P Yolland April 9th 1870
Repairer's mark
on reverse of dial

Cleaned By P..... for Messrs A+K April 25th 1843
Repairer's mark
on reverse of dial

Cleaning by S - for Messrs A+K. May 1834 and cleaning February 1839 for A+K
Repairer's mark
on reverse of dial

[F+L?] 1892
Repairer's mark
on reverse of dial

Cleaned by Jermeny Lancelotte Evans at the British Museum, London, February 20th 1981. Long May You Run?
Repairer's mark
on reverse of dial


Owned by Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (b.1694, d.1773), possibly acquired by his dealer in Paris after 1730 and probably around 1748 for Chesterfield House, London; by descent to his adopted son Philip Stanhope, 5th Earl of Chesterfield (b.1755, d.1815); by descent to his son George Stanhope, 6th Earl of Chesterfield (b.1805, d.1866); inherited by his wife Anne Elizabeth Stanhope, Countess of Chesterfield (b.1802, d.1885) at Bretby, Derbyshire; by descent to her grandson (son of her daughter, Evelyn, d. 1775) George Edward Stanhope Molyneux, 5th Earl of Carnarvon (b.1866, d.1923) along with Bretby and other Stanhope estates; acquired by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (b.1839, d.1898) from the 5th Earl of Carnarvon at Bretby before 1892; inherited by his sister Alice de Rothschild (b.1847, d.1922); inherited by her great-nephew James de Rothschild (b.1878, d.1957); bequeathed to Waddesdon, The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1957.
Waddesdon (National Trust)
Bequest of James de Rothschild, 1957



Sir Francis Watson; Wallace Collection Catalogues - Furniture; London; Wallace Collection; 1956; p. 20, F42.
Editorial: A Rothschild Collection for the Nation, The Burlington Magazine, 99, 1957, 223-225; p. 223, fig. 2.
Anon, Un péndulo desconocido de Julien le Roy, DERSA, July 1967, 8-15; p. 13, ill.
Geoffrey de Bellaigue, Anthony Blunt; Furniture Clocks and Gilt Bronzes: The James A de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor; 2 vols; Fribourg; Office du Livre; 1974; pp. 51-55, cat. no. 3, ill.
Guidebook The J. Paul Getty Museum; Malibu; J. Paul Getty Museum; 1978; p. 104.
Charissa Bremer-David; Decorative Arts An Illustrated Summary Catalogue of the Collections of the J.Paul Getty Museum; Malibu; J. Paul Getty Museum; 1993; p. 85.
Gillian Wilson, David Harris Cohen, Jean-Nérée Ronfort, Jean-Dominique Augarde, Peter Friess; European Clocks in the J. Paul Getty Museum; Los Angeles; J. Paul Getty Museum; 1996; pp. 35, 154.
Peter Hughes; The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Furniture; 3 vols; London; The Trustees of the Wallace Collection (London); 1996; pp. 373-374, cat. no. 89.
Alan Phipps Darr, Theodore Dell; The Dodge Collection of Eighteenth-Century French and English Art in The Detroit Institute of Arts; Detroit; The Detroit Institute of Arts; 1996; p. 236.
Oliver Garnett; Living in Style; London; National Trust Enterprises Limited; 2002; p. 91.
Treasures from The National Trust; London; The National Trust; 2007; p. 78.
Jean-Nérée Ronfort; André Charles Boulle (1642-1732): Un nouveau style pour l'Europe; Museum für Angewandre Kunst Frankfurt, Frankfurt, 30 October 2009 - 31 January 2010; Frankfurt am Main; Somogy Editions d'Art; 2009; pp. 86, 149, 244.

Entry from (Bellaigue,1974):


Indexed terms