- Museum number
Clock; the case of oak, with a veneer of black stencilled chequer-board decoration; the face made up of squares of mother-of-pearl with four squares of ivory at the corners; the numbers are of wood, inset into the face and the hands are metal painted blue; the face has a brass surround and is protected by a hinged cover; beneath the face is set an oblong mirror; at the back are two doors, to the clock above and the pendulum below; the movement is French late nineteenth century. Above the 12 on the dial is a small brass crescent to adjust the speed of the movement.
- Production date
Height: 37 centimetres
Length: 25.20 centimetres (base)
Width: 13.80 centimetres (base)
- Curator's comments
- Text from J. Rudoe, 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950. A catalogue of the British Museum collection'. 2nd ed. no.151.
Designed for the guest bedroom of W.J. Bassett-Lowke's house at 78 Derngate, Northampton, with an earlier late 19th-century French movement. Mackintosh left Glasgow in 1914; his transformation of a nineteenth-century terraced house in Northampton in 1917 for the engineering-model manufacturer Wenman Joseph Bassett- Lowke, was his last major commission. Bassett-Lowke was well aware of recent developments on the Continent, but, surprisingly, had not heard of Mackintosh before 1914 when he was recommended to him. The guest bedroom at Derngate was designed in 1919; Bassett-Lowke described it as 'perhaps the most daring in the house' (quoted in Billcliffe, R., 'C. R. Mackintosh, the complete furniture, furniture drawings and interior designs', 3rd edn 1986, 246), with its striking black-and-white striped wallpaper carried up on to the ceiling. There were matching curtains and bedspread, and the furniture was edged with blue and black chequerboard decoration.
This clock was the largest of the clocks designed by Mackintosh for Bassett-Lowke (designs for a number of others are in the University of Glasgow Mackintosh Collection). A number of photographs in the Mackintosh Collection show the clock in situ, on the fireplace (for example, Fig. 24, where the fireplace is reflected in the long mirror, ref. no. G(h) 19); see also Howarth, T., 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Modern Movement', London, 2nd edn 1977 (with full bibliography) , pl. 77; Pevsner, N., 'Studies in Art, Architecture and Design II, Victorian and after', London 1968 (chapter on Mackintosh originally published in Milan, 1950), 1950, 139, and 1968, pl. 52; Billcliffe 1986, 247, no. 1919.7. A direct view of the mantelpiece with the clock was included in an article on the Derngate house in Ideal Home, September 1920, 95 - 6; by this time Mackintosh was so out of fashion that the article does not mention his name.
R. Billcliffe and P.Vergo, 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Austrian Art Revival', Burlington Magazine CXIX, (November 1977, 744, pls 13-14) have noted the influence of Otto Prutscher on Mackinstosh's design for this clock, which owes much to a clock design by Prutscher illustrated in The Studio Yearbook, 1908, item A.27.
Bassett-Lowke's furniture at Derngate was made either in his own works, or by local or London cabinet-makers, or by internees at the Knockaloe prison camp on the Isle of Man, under the supervision of Otto Matt, a skilled German cabinet-maker. Examples of furniture made on the Isle of Man are held by the Manx Museum and by the Victoria and Albert Museum, while two other clocks made for Bassett-Lowke are described by Billcliffe as having cases made by German internees on the Isle of Man (nos 1917.1 and 4). Both these clocks use ebonised wood and inlaid ivory and Erinoid, whereas the British Museum clock in its materials relates more closely to large-scale furniture for Derngate. The movement is a common late-nineteenth century French type, reused presumably because it was cheap and easily available.
In 1924 Bassett-Lowke decided to build a new house on the outskirts of Northampton, but had lost touch with Mackintosh, who was living in France; he therefore chose an avant-garde German architect: 'I could not find any other architect with modern ideas in England, and when looking through a German publication called Werkbund Jahrbuch of 1913 I saw some work by Professor Dr Peter Behrens which I thought was very simple, straightforward and modern in its atmosphere. I obtained Dr Behrens' address from the German Consul and got in touch with him' (quoted in I. Campbell, 'A Model Patron: Bassett-Lowke, Mackintosh and Behrens', Journal of the Decorative Arts Society 10, 1986, 3). For Bassett-Lowke and his patronage of both Mackintosh and Behrens, see Campbell 1986.
Information supplementary to Rudoe 1994:
See also M. Collins, 'Towards Post-Modernism, Design since 1851', London, British Museum, revised ed. 1994, colour pl. IV.
The initials 'G.B & E' and 'Made in France', on the back-plate of the clock movement indicate that the movement was made for export, but the initials do not appear in the standard reference works such as K. Kochmann, 'Clock & Watch Trademark Index' (Antique Clocks Publishing, 2000), either under France for a French maker, or under Britain, for a UK retailer.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1996 May 25-Sep 30, Glasgow, Glasgow Museum, 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh'
- Some splits to the case and shrinkage to the wood, so the lower door at the back no longer fits flush; the dial has two slots cut in each side, indicating it was once held by a pair of horizontal bars.
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The clock passed from Bassett-Lowke to his niece, Mrs Janet Dicks, and remained with her until 1979.
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number