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Mother of Pearl Table Clock „à la fleur“

Perlmuttuhr Blume a la fleur Johan Reich a Wien sign auf Platine

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Vienna, first quarter of the 19th century

signed
“Johan Reich à Wien” (on the plate)
Case
mother of pearl, brass, ormolu mounts
Dial
engine turned ormolu
Movement
verge escapement with fusee, ruby bearing, fine adjustment, engraved plate with ornate open-work balance cock
Height
7 in

In the first half of the 19th century, mother-of-pearl works from Vienna were in great demand internationally as elegant luxury objects of the highest quality. Alongside Paris and London, the metropolis on the Danube was one of the most important centers for gallantry items made from this precious, velvety, iridescent shell material. The high-quality pieces by renowned Viennese mother-of-pearl craftsmen, such as Karl Schmid, Johann Tanzwohl and Nicolaus Rozet, can be found today in the important collections of the MET New York, the MAK Vienna and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Established Viennese clockmakers also made use of the outstanding skills of these masters of mother-of-pearl processing for the cases of their prestigious commissions. Flower-shaped table clocks „á la fleur“ are a particularly appealing example of this successful collaboration between artisans and clockmakers in the Danube metropolis.

The flower head-shaped movement case is mounted on a brass stem with carved mother-of-pearl leaves. Individually crafted mother-of-pearl petals frame the engine turned ormolu dial. The base, also veneered in mother-of-pearl with fire-gilt bronze applications, features a small drawer for the clock key.

Viennese miniature clocks of the time were often fitted with French pocket watch movements – in this rare case, however, the fine case is fitted with a Viennese verge escapement movement with chain and fusee. The signature of the clockmaker Johann Reich can be found on the elaborately engraved plate. The floral theme of the clock is taken up again in the design of the finely crafted balance cock: Openworked acanthus tendrils grow out of an engraved vase and entwine themselves around the shimmering red ruby bearing of the balance.

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