- Museum number
Watch-stand; glazed white soft-paste porcelain; lower part consisting of asymmetrical scrolls and rockwork formed by press-moulding with applied flowers and figures; above the circular opening is perched Cupid holding a flower garland in his left hand and an arrow in his right; recumbent figure of Flora, head turned to right, partly draped, basket of flowers at her side; partly-draped figure of Zephyr approaching Flora, his foot resting on the rock-work base and body half-turned to right, holds his hands stiffly in front of him; interior partly glazed; glaze is greenish where it has pooled; lower right leg of male figure missing; no marks.
- Production date
- 1750 (circa)
Height: 26.60 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Dawson 1994
Comparable Example: A somewhat similar figure group on a rocky base mounted in ormolu is in the Victoria and Albert Museum London.(1) A coloured clock-case is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York(2) and a more elaborate coloured example was sold on the London market in 1975.(3) This was sold again in New York from the Christner Collection in 1979.(4) A coloured example from the Lair Collection is in the Musée des arts décoratifs, Château de Saumur,(5) one bearing the Chelsea gold anchor mark and probably decorated in the nineteenth century was sold m Rouen in 1986.(6) A version in which the male figure wears a ruff was sold in London in 1971.(7) A coloured example measuring 25cm was on the London market in September 1991.(8)
This piece is the subject of considerable discussion. The colour of the paste is noticeably creamier than that of the groups symbolising Music and Astronomy and the style of the group, in particular its scrolled base has been characterised as English or Germanic(9) although no suggestion has emerged as to which factory in those countries might have produced it.
It has been analysed by X-ray diffraction and found to be a soft-paste porcelain containing wollastonite and tridymite. No tin has been identified in the glaze.(10)
It is significant that the earliest Vincennes stock list of 1752 contains no reference to clock-cases or watch stands. The white glazed group often known as ‘L'Heure du Berger’, undoubtedly of Vincennes origin, of which there is an example at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London(11) is composed of a recumbent female figure holding flowers and a seated male figure gesturing towards her. The modelling is more technically accomplished, and the paste whiter.
The rather fussy detail of the watch stand, the appearance of the faces and the profusion of flowers and leaves perhaps suggest a Tournai origin. However, the scrolls are reminiscent of the groups presently attributed to Orleans (see reg. no. Franks.364).
Watch stands were made at other porcelain factories, including Chelsea,(12) Bow(13) and Derby,(14) as well as in other materials such as gilt-bronze and wood. They apparently made their first appearance in France in the seventeenth century, were highly popular in the eighteenth century, and were still in use in the later part of the nineteenth century.(15)
(1) Inv. C.356-1909.
(2) Inv. 158 254.
(3) Christie's, 30 June 1975, Lot 70.
(4) Christie's, New York, 8 June 1979, Christner Collection, Vol. II, Lot 47.
(5) Inv. 1152.
(6) Rouen, Palais des Congrès, 9 March 1986, Lot 150.
(7) Christie's, 4 October 1971, Lot 9. Another with ruff sold at Sotheby's, 19 November 1996, Lot 60.
(8) Christie's, 30 September 1991, Lot 103.
(9) Hallé, Antoinette and Préaud, Tamara, ‘Porcelaines de Vincennes, les Origines de Sèvres’, Grand Palais, Paris, October 1977 – January 1978, p. 169.
(10) BM Research Laboratory 24351R.
(11) See note 1.
(12) British Museum, inv. Porc. Cat. II. 3 2, illus. E. Adams, ‘Chelsea Porcelain’, London, 1987, pl. XIII.
(13) See H. Tait, Handel and Bow, ‘Apollo’, Vol. LXXVI, no. 5, July 1962, pp. 384-90 and A. Gabszewicz, ‘Bow Porcelain, the collection formed by Geoffrey Freeman’, London, 1982, no. 139.
(14) Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, USA, inv. 76.257.
(15) See F. Laure, Les porte-montre des 18e et 19e siècles, ‘L’Estampille’, no. 119, March 1980, pp. 28-36, with bibliography.
Literature: King, William, Etude anglaise sur les porcelaines de Vincennes, ‘Bulletin de la Société des Amis de Vincennes’, March 1939, no. 15, p. 222; W. King, A Vincennes Porcelain Clock-Case, ‘British Museum Quarterly’, Vol. XIV, no. 3 (1940), pp. 54-6; pl. XXII; Savage, George, ‘Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century French Porcelain’, London, 1960; pl. 67b; Eriksen, Svend and de Bellaigue, Geoffrey, ‘Sèvres Porcelain: Vincennes and Sèvres 1740-1800’, London, 1987, pl. 20.
Exhibited: 1977, ‘Porcelaines de Vincennes, les origines de Sèvres’, Paris, Grand Palais, Oct. 1977-Feb. 1978, no. 488.
For a similar piece attributed to Orleans or Tournai, see Sotheby's, European Ceramics and Glass, 19 November 1996, lot 60 (unsold).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1977-1978 14 Oct-16 Jan, France, Paris, Grand Palais, Porcelaine Tendre de Vincennes
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number