- Museum number
Clock; the case of blackened wood, inlaid; the hands of copper; the face is formed of a central octagonal panel with a painted veneer containing gold dust; it is surrounded by panels of stained yellow ivory and abalone shell outlined in aluminium; the numbers are incised into the ivory panels and filled in with a black compound, which has also been used to frame each ivory panel; the two motifs at the top are inlaid with abalone shell and mother-of-pearl framed in thin strips of ivory which also form the remaining linear and scroll inlays.
- Production date
- 1902-1903 (case designed;circa)
Height: 34.80 centimetres
Width: 18.30 centimetres (top)
- Curator's comments
- Text from J. Rudoe, 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950. A catalogue of the British Museum collection'. 2nd ed. no.228.
Olbrich trained as an architect in Vienna, working initially for Otto Wagner. He was a founder member of the Vienna Seccession in 1897, and in 1899 was called to the Darmstadt artists' colony, where he designed public buildings and artists' houses, as well as rooms for several international exhibitions.
A clock of this design is illustrated in Velhagen & Klasing 's Monatshefte XV111 Jahrgang, Heft 1, September 1903, when it was displayed, along with other Olbrich clocks, at the Keller & Reiner art gallery in Berlin. Founded in 1899, the Keller & Reiner gallery was decorated by van de Velde and often acted as sole retailer for certain artists or firms. The 1903 article describes the clock as made by Macco; further support for this attribution is to be found in a closely related jewel box, of darkened maple, designed by Olbrich c. 1901, which bears a label on the reverse signed 'Robert Macco, Kunstgew. Atelier, Hoflieferand, Heidelberg' (Darmstadt 1976, Kunsthalle, 'Ein Dokument deutsche Kunst 1901-1976', 5 vols. Bd 4, no. 478; Brussels 1977, Palais des Beaux Arts, 'Jugendstil', no. 268A; 'Joseph M. Olbrich 1867-1908', exhibition catalogue, Mathildenhohe, Darmstadt 1983, no. 372). The inlaid details and the use of stained wood are closely comparable. This clock was included in the exhibition 'Em Dokument Deutscher Kunst', held in Darmstadt in 1976, no. 480. It appears to be the only known example of this model. For further clocks and jewel caskets designed by Olbrich with similar inlaid decoration, see 'Architektur von Olbrich, 1901-14', Berlin, published by Ernst Wasmuth, Berlin 1902-14, reprinted 1988, pls 263-4, 276.
Macco's marquetry workshop, Marqueterie und Kunstgewerbliche Anstalt (founded in Paris in 1839) was at Bergheimerstrasse 49, Heidelberg. He won two gold medals at the Paris Exhibition of 1900 and executed most of the 'Intarsien' included in the Darmstadt exhibition of 1901 (Darmstadt 1901, Künstlerkolonie, 'Hauptkatalog. Die Ausstellung der Künstlerkolonie. Darmstadt1901', ed. J. Olbrich, 43 and 118). Macco advertised for 'Moderne Intarsien' in the catalogue of the 1904 exhibition at the Darmstadt artists' colony and he is again mentioned in the catalogue of the German section of the St Louis Exhibition of 1904 as an executor for Olbrich (no. 1456, p. 412 and no. 2457, p. 456).
AGU (Aktiengesellschaft für Uhrenfabrikation) in Lenzkirch was founded in 1851 (see J. Abeler, 'Meister der Uhrmacherkunst', Wuppertal 1977); it had a reputation for good-quality movements, but went out of business in 1929 because its products were too expensive.
(Much of the information in this entry was kindly supplied by Graham Dry.)
- Not on display
- A small piece of ivory is missing from the figure six.
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number