Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Video: Lord Uxbridge's Gilt-Bronze Carriage Clock, 1811

Friday, January 17, 2014

Isabella reporting,

Sometimes it's the unexpected things that bring the past into sharpest focus. I saw this elegant carriage clock on display last month at the Frick Collection in New York, and was immediately drawn into both its design, and its story. The clock was made by the father & son team of Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823) and Antoine-Louis Breguet (1776-1858), and was purchased by General Henry William Paget, Earl of Uxbridge, later 1st Marquess of Anglesey (1768-1854) in 1813. Lord Uxbridge was a prominent British military leader, best remembered for leading a definitive cavalry charge against French troops at the Battle of Waterloo – and, of course, for one of the more striking portraits of the era, below.

As this short video about the clock shows, a Breguet timepiece like this carriage clock was not only an indispensable accessory for wealthy travelers (its features include an alarm clock!) but also a symbol of rank, wealth, and efficiency: all the generals on both sides of the Napoleonic wars carried Breguet watches. Technology aside, it's a breathtakingly beautiful work of art.

The clock is part of a stunning small show, Precision and Splendor: Clocks and Watches at The Frick Collection, on view through February 2, 2014. If you've braved the lines for the current blockbuster show of Dutch masterpieces (yes, I did see The Girl with the Pearl Earring and The Goldfinch, too), it's worth leaving time to see this clocks and watches as well.

Below: Field Marshall Henry William Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey, by John Hoppner & Sawrey Gilpin, 1798. National Trust Collection, Plas Newydd, Anglesey.


Mrs Black the shoppe keeping cat said...

This sounds very interesting and would love to see it. Think General Henry William Paget, Earl of Uxbridge rather dashing too!

Helena said...

The video was excellent. The Frick is one of my all-time favourite museums, and I enjoyed the careful explanation of the features of the clock. I'd love to set an alarm by how long I wanted to sleep! It's that sort of detail which would make all the difference if you were writing about the period.

Thank you!

Glen Davies said...

Somewhat less dashing after a cannon took away his leg at Waterloo.
Uxbridge - 'By God, sir, I've lost my leg!'
Wellington - 'By God, sir, so you have!'
The leg has its own burial spot at Uxbridge's stately home on Anglesey (North Wales)

Glen Davies said...

Probably a little less dashing once the cannonball took off his leg.

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