William Clay Fecit, 29 mm, 29 g, circa 1630
An outstanding single hand gold and enamel miniature verge pocket watch, with flower decoration created in Blois and very likely based on the illustrations in the "Florilegium" by Emanuel Sweerts; with shagreen leather outer case dating from the 18th century
Case: 22k gold, opaque white and translucent polychrome enamel. Dial: gold and white enamel with polychrome flowers in the centre. Movm.: full plate movement, gut/fusee, applied blued pierced click work, verge escapement, plain two-arm steel balance without balance spring.
This fine and rare treasure is allover enamelled in opaque white and ornamented with colourful, translucent champlevé flowers. Some tiny black cosse-de-pois tendrils sit between the tulips and anemones. The ornamentation is repeated in the centre of the dial and around the edge. A white chapter ring with black Roman hours indicates the time. The motif was most likely inspired by Emanuel Sweerts' "Florilegium".
The movement is signed by English maker William Clay. This case was imported from France and then fitted with an English movement, a practice that applied to most enamel watches in the 17th century. Unlike with gold and silver timepieces, it was customary at the time to create these cases first and then have the movement fitted by a watchmaker.
The translucent enamel colours suggest a French origin. It is likely that the case either came from Blois or was produced somewhere near there - in the early 17th century Blois was the birthplace as well as the hub of miniature enamel painting and there were hardly any artists outside France who had the skills for it. An unusually extensive range of translucent colours was used to create the most realistic and detailed Champlevé flowers and leaves. Only one single flower has been painted in an opaque light-blue colour, which is also repeated on the pendant.
More recent records on William Clay state that he was active as a watchmaker in King's Street in London around 1646 and that he died in 1662. He was never a formal member of the Clockmakers' Company, which makes it difficult to know much about him and his work. There is a high quality lantern clock and also a timepiece that was presented to a Colonel Bagley by Cromwell after the siege of Clonmel.
Bibliography: F.J. Britten, Old Clocks and Watches and Their Makers, 6th Edition, London, 1932.
Brian Loomes, Watchmaker and Clockmakers of the World, London 2006, p. 157.
Emanuel Sweerts' "Florilegium"
Sweerts dealt in bulbs and rare plants and regularly traveled to the fair in Frankfurt with his catalogue to offer flowers and rare plants he grew in his large garden in Amsterdam. He used his catalogue as a guideline for his "Florilegium amplissimum et selectissimum (1612)". Sweerts’ work shows 330 bulbs in the first and 243 flowering plants in the second part. The "Florilegium" is filled with etchings and was very popular with 17th century artists who used it as inspiration for their work. Many still life scenes dating from this time show a growing appreciation and popularity of flowers.
- Anthony Martin Priddis, Bishop of Hereford in the Church of England from 2004 to 2013
- Sold at an auction at Antiquorum on October 16, 2005 for 189,950 Swiss francs, lot no. 86
- In private ownership, Switzerland
机蕊 非常好, 需要維護, 走動正常
机蕊 非常好, 需要維護, 走動正常