Michael Hoffrichter, Augustae Vindelicorum (Augsburg), Diameter 36 mm, 48 g, circa 1680
An important single-hand gold and enamel verge pendant watch of museum quality, with painted portrait of a lady
Case: 20k gold and polychrome enamel. On the back is a portrait painted in a pointillist technique, showing a lady in a Spanish-inspired costume: red silk skirt with trimmings, brown top adorned with blue bows, brown velvet train with green lining. The lady wears a white lace bonnet with a blue bow, a veil, pearl-earrings and long gloves. The very low-cut dress is emphasised by a pearl necklace. In her right hand she holds an open fan, in her left is a black theatrical mask. She is seated in a park next to a pedestal with a bowl of flowers; in the background a park landscape and an alley of trees. The rim of the case is divided into cartouches by bouquets of summer flowers; four cartouches with country scenes: a horseman, a wayfarer and two shepherds. Inside the lid is a polychrome painting of Venus in a chariot drawn by doves, in the company of her son Cupid with his love arrow, who holds the reins of the chariot, after an engraving by Gérard de Lairesse (1641-1711), Dutch painter, etcher and mezzotint engraver, from circa 1675. Dial: gold, Champlevé, inlaid radial Roman numerals, half hour markers; the centre with engraved foliage, blued single steel hand. Movm.: full plate movement, keywind, signed, gilt, fusee with early chain, worm-and-wheel set-up, baluster movement pillars, four-wheel train with verge escapement and steel foliot without balance spring, oval pattern silver balance cock pierced and engraved with foliage, worm-and-wheel set-up, with pierced blued-steel brackets and engraved silver setting disc.
This watch was made in Augsburg; it is not only the movement that was created there but also the exquisite enamel painting that is a fine example of German enamel art at the end of the 17th century, although we do not know who the enamel painter of this watch was. In a recent study on enamel painting in Augsburg and Geneva in the late 17th and early 18th century ("Les arts du feu à Augsbourg et à Genève 1680-1710") Hans Boeckh, former curator of the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, states that in addition to the well-known strongholds such as Geneva, Blois or Paris, Augsburg was by all means another such centre; Boeckh considers it only fitting to speak of an independent "Augsburg school". Unfortunately examples of Augsburg enamelling are rare - only a few pieces have survived. The iconography used in Augsburg is different from that in Geneva, Blois or Paris; the emailleurs in these cities usually took their inspiration from important works of old masters and often created portraits of illustrious personalities from engravings or paintings by famous painters of the 17th and 18th century (see lot no. 222).
This portrait of a lady is different; the details in the painting, however, should provide an indication as to who the person in the painting is. The motif does not "tell a story". To make a statement, the overall context must be taken into consideration and a great significance is attached to the counter enamelling: the inside of the watch shows a naked Venus, the personification of amorous desire. Venus sits in a chariot drawn by two doves and her son Cupid holds the rains - Cupid with his love arrow stands for "falling in love". The watch was without doubt made to order for an important customer who wished to immortalize his beloved.
At first glance the lady on the back of the case seems to be wearing a Spanish-inspired robe. She is holding a fan and a mask in her hands - accessories that are inevitably creating a reference to the person. Up to the 19th century fans were considered a luxurious accessory and were as such a token of regality; folding fans, however, were an allegory of the volatility of women. The mask symbolizes duplicity, but also alludes to the theatre and easy living.
The lady wears what seems to be a sumptuous outfit made of silk, velvet and pearls; the bows on her dress are royal blue - these are signs that indicate a person of high rank. However, the combination of the dress with the contrived stance somehow reminds the viewer of a masquerade; the effect is intensified by the unusually low-cut dress that is almost frivolous. All these details add up to the conclusion that the lady in question may have been an actress or even the mistress of a high-ranking gentleman.
One of the most celebrated thespians of the time was Margaret Hughes (1630-1719) , who is regarded as the first professional performer in England. She was also known to be the beloved mistress of Prince Rupert of the Rhine (1619-1682) .
Margaret Hughes was famous for her charms and her beauty; the great diarist Samuel Pepys describes her as a "mighty pretty woman" and she was considered "a great beauty, with dark ringletted hair, a fine figure, and particularly good legs".
In the late 1660s Prince Rupert of the Rhine fell in love with her. The Prince was one of the most senior members of the royal family and his patronage allowed Hughes to advance quickly; she became a member of the King's Company in 1669.
Sources: "Les arts du feu à Augsbourg et à Genève 1680-1710" by Hans Boeckh, Geneva 1996.
"Emailmalerei auf Genfer Taschenuhren vom 17. bis zum beginnenden 19. Jahrhundert" ("Enamel paintings on Geneva pocket watches from the 17th century until beginning of the 19th century") by Hans Boeckh, dissertation, Freiburg 1982.
"Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia" - "Margaret Hughes", https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Hughes, as of 10/09/2015.
Rupert, Count Palatine of the Rhine and Duke of Bavaria , was known as "Rupert the Cavalier"; he was of the house of Wittelsbach and became Duke of Cumberland and Earl of Holderness in 1644. Rupert was General of the English Armies and was later appointed Lord High Admiral of the Royal Navy.
After the Thirty Year’s war Rupert went back to Germany in 1652. He settled in Mainz and devoted himself to the sciences and the arts.
He returned to England after the Restoration in 1660; he became private secretary of King Charles II and mainly dealt with matters of the navy. He held several navy commands and fought against the Dutch and other enemies; Rupert was appointed admiral in 1672 and succeeded the king as High Admiral from 1673 to 1679. The Prince was also the first governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company that was founded in 1670; the company would go on to be so successful that it soon controlled the fur trade in the whole of Canada. Its territory was nearly as large as the Canada of today and was called "Rupert’s Land” in his honour.
Rupert died a bachelor in 1682; he had, however, a son and was also the father of Margaret Hughes’ daughter.
Source: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruprecht_von_der_Pfalz,_Duke_of_Cumberland, as of 10/09/2015
Michael Hof(f)richter, Augsburg
Around 1647 Hofrichter was born in Oberpeterswalde, Schlesion. He was established as Master in 1670 and died around 1702.
Source: "Meister der Uhrmacherkunst" (masters of watchmaking) by Juergen Abeler, 2nd edition, Wuppertal 2010, p. 252.
Gérard (de) Lairesse (1641-1711) was a Dutch Golden Age painter and art theorist. His broad range of talent included music, poetry, and theatre. De Lairesse was born in Liège and was the second son of painter Renier de Lairesse (1597-1667). He studied art under his father and from 1655 at Bertholet Flemalle. He worked in Cologne and in 1660 in Aix-la-Chapelle (district Aachen) for Maximilian Henry of Bavaria (1621-1688), Archbishop-Elector of Cologne, Bishop of Hildesheim and Bishop of Liège. Hence it is clear, that de Lairesse was known in Germany at that time.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_de_Lairesse, as of 10/11/2015.
There is another Augsburg gold enamel watch, in the shape of a heart, made by Johann Martin of Augsburg, with case painted by the same artist in the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva.
Case: very good
Dial: very good
Movm.: very good, capable of running, cleaning recommended
Dial: very good
Movm.: very good, capable of running, cleaning recommended