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Back to category Other Viennese Wall Clocks.

Magnificent Neogothic Castle Clock “W. Schönberger in Wien”

Prächtige Schlossuhr der Laxenburger Gotik W. Schönberger in Wien

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Vienna, around 1840/45

Clockmaker
Wenzel Schönberger,
Vienna, 1847 citizen and clockmaker, mentd. 1852, † before 1885
Case
polished rosewood veneer, partly ebonized, rosewood columns, richly carved gable made of ebonized fruit wood with tracery, pinnacles, crockets and finial with the design vocabulary of the Laxenburg Gothic style
Dial
enamel dial with curved twelve-part, multifoil minute track, magnificent fire-gilt bronze bezel (ormolu) in the shape of an elaborately ornamented twelvefold multifoil with lavish scrolling foliage
Movement
Graham escapement, maintaining power, off-center weight, finely engraved with arcades with tracery gables in late gothic style, pendulum with illusion temperature compensation (mock gridiron pendulum) with sun-shaped fire-gilt bob (ormolu) with tracery including many variants of mouchette décor duration of one month
Height
61½ in

An endless abundance of delicate, fragile, high-arching, curved shapes; a plethora of slender, refined elements and ornaments reminiscent of luxuriant vegetation, brought into geometric order by means of symmetry, often intertwined and tactically playful; with its exuberant wealth of ideas and shapes, the Gothic style still surprises the observer to this day. Towards the end of the 18th century, with the burgeoning of Romanticism and an increasing sense of national pride, a new awareness for the art of the Middle Ages began to stir. Several royal courts adapted the neo-Gothic style, which had originated in England, for their construction projects and interior decoration. The goal was a return to the time before the French Revolution, to a traditional estate system with the divinely ordained ruler at its top. In this vein, Emperor Francis I of Austria had a “knightly district” set up in the castle gardens of the Laxenburg summer residence from 1798 onwards. The core element is the Franzensburg castle (completed in 1835) situated on an island, which served as a private retreat for the emperor. The style of the architectural sculpture as well as the interior design is delicate and graceful, often inspired by dynamically curved, late Gothic forms and of the highest elegance and lightness. The strong influence of the so-called Laxenburg Gothic style on Viennese craftsmanship in the first half of the 19th century is illustrated by this magnificent wall clock by renowned master clockmaker Wenzel Schönberger. The imposing, highly detailed design with the unusual twelve-part multifoil dial, the pendulum bob decorated with tracery, and the exquisitely engraved weight, as well as the choice of the monarchist style, which was popular among imperial courts and high nobility, suggest that the commission came from the very highest circles. It is no surprise, therefore, that Emperor Francis Joseph’s study in the Imperial Villa in Bad Ischl is home to a similar wall clock. Francis Joseph had spent happy summers in Laxenburg with Empress Sisi (two of their children were born there) and had obviously come to love the park with its neo-Gothic edifices and their interiors. It is therefore not unlikely that our magnificent wall clock was commissioned by a member of the imperial household or the related high nobility, and that the imperial couple enjoyed the luxury of this or a similar clock in Laxenburg.

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