Lot No. 164 (99th Auction)
Monogramist "HK", probably Nuremberg, Germany, 75 x 48 x 25 mm, 126 g, third quarter 16th century
class=Body> Oval, gold, enamel and rock crystal watch, German, circa 1560 - An important and extremely early gold, enamel and rock-crystal verge pocket watch,
class=Body> formerly in the Debruge-Duménil Collection (1.), the Prince Soltykoff Collection (4.) and the Rothschild Collection, Paris, unseen since 1861
class=Body> Case: Oval with high carat gold frames, decorated with a rope twist pattern in black, white and green champleve enamel. The back frame joined to the front by four shaped hinged straps, showing remaining traces of translucent red and blue enamel and set with a large square cut ruby or diamond. The encrusted ball pendant with a ring and similar finial with a pearl, both similarly, enamelled in white, green and translucent colours. The rock crystal band with raised bands beneath the mounts. Hinged rock crystal set front cover enamelled with the Latin phrase TEMPUS EDAX RERUM TACITISQUE SENESCIMUS ANNIS ( Time devours all things We grow old with the silently passing years); the back bezel with the phrase TEMPORA PRETEREUNT MORE FLUENTIS AQUAE (Time passes like flowing water).
class=Body> Dial: Oval gold plate, the vertexes decorated with floral scrolls in green, red and blue translucent, the centre with a 24 point starburst in red translucent enamel against a blue ground, within a band of white enamel, then black enamel with 13-24 Arabic hour chapters, blue translucent enamel for the 12 hour ring with half hour marks, and an outer band of white. Single blued-steel hand with splayed tail.
class=Body> Movement: Gilt brass and iron. Backplate entirely gilt and engraved with a partially cross-hatched arabesque design, the makers mark, a conjoined "HK" within a heart-shaped escutcheon, and a virtually hidden "cross" pattée. Similarly engraved and gilt pillars and potence block, fusee with gut, rivetted iron barrel covers, iron wheels, the foliot with brass adjusting slips. Bristle regulator with punched scale. The winding arbor tip cut in the shape of an "N".
class=Body> Note:
class=Body> This watch cannot be considered in its historical context without reference to another example that survives in the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore (Inv. WAM 58.31). William Walters and his son Henry collected throughout the second half of the 19th. century, and the collection was left to the City in 1931 following Henrys death. Records indicated only that the watch had been acquired pre-1915, and recent research confirmed that it had formed part of the Spitzer Auction in Paris in 1893 (8.), a sale from which the Walters acquired several objects directly. In the intervening years, neither this watch nor the one now offered for sale had been published or examined. However, in 2007, in anticipation of the renewal of the Renaissance Gallery at the Museum, a scientific examination of the watch was undertaken. Although the existence of the present lot was known as a consequence of the engravings published by Pierre Dubois in 1853 (3.) and subsequently partly reproduced by Britten (7.), only the limited descriptions provided were available to the Museum for comparison.
class=Body> In brief, the Walters Art Gallery watch (Fig.1.) is also in gold, enamel and rock crystal, but without gem-set straps, perhaps on account of its being of slightly smaller size (36 mm x 31 mm without pendant and finial), It bears all the same marks on the movement. In addition, the Walters watch has initials and the date 1560 engraved on the front plate of the movement. Surprisingly, the monogram HK and the other "signatory" details were not described for either watch when they appeared at auction or in early publications. The Spitzer catalogue notes: Le revers du mouvement est gravé darabesques et de rinceaux parmi laquelles on distingue un monogramme (the reverse of the movement is engraved with arabesques and scrollwork in which one can see a monogram). On the engraving of the current lot, published by Dubois, the monogram is clearly visible, but not mentioned at all in his accompanying text. However, now that both watches have been comprehensively examined, some interesting details have emerged:
class=Body> a. Both watches have the conjoined monogram "HK" engraved within the backplate decoration.
class=Body> b. The Walters watch has the initial "N" engraved within the backplate decoration. This watch has an "N" incised into the end of the winding arbor.
class=Body> c. This watch has a tiny cross motif hidden within the backplate engraving. The Walters watch has the "cross" motif hidden under the dial between the 15 and 60 of the engraved date (Fig. 2).
class=Body> A comparison of the movements reveals further distinctive features common to both:
class=Body> 1. Both movements are held within their cases with sprung clips releasing tongues that locate into the gold frame. These are located at the 12 and 6 oclock positions rather than the more usual 3 and 9 oclock (Fig 3 ). Unusual, but not unknown since the pendant and finial are the strongest points of the frames.
class=Body> 2. Both movements have the barrel spring set-up clicks mounted between the plates, and in order to avoid an accidental attempt to wind the watch using their extensions through the backplate, the arbors have female ends.
class=Body> 3. Both movements have a single piece potence, holding both pivots of the scape wheel, and secured by a pin onto one of the pillars. This is the method used on the earliest types of portable clock and watch.
class=Body> Despite there being differences in detail between the movements, notably in the style of engraving of the backplates and shape of some pillars, there can be little doubt that they emanate from the same workshops even if one discounts the monograms and the curious "cross" motifs. The current lot has at some time been cleaned, and appears to have suffered less wear than the Walters; notably not being converted to chain for the fusee, and without the signs of past poor repairs carried out using soft solder. Analysis of the brass used in the construction of the Walters movement shows it to be of a composition commensurate with the period (zinc below 30% with other impurities). In addition, the Walters case is stated as having suffered losses to the enamel,
class=Body> notably the pendant and base straps, and the same is true of the present lot. The additional straps on this lot have only traces of enamel remaining, unsurprising in view of their delicacy, and the loss was already apparent on the engraving published by Dubois in 1858. Analysis of the enamels on the Walters watch by Mark Wypyski, Conservation Scientist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art confirmed that they are consistent with other well-dated 16th. and 17th. century
class=Body> European enamels (9. & 10.).
class=Body> Possible Maker:
class=Body> The punch or monogram "HK" has usually been attributed to two makers. The most famous, Hans Koch was working from 1554 to 1599, but was based in Munich, and appears to have been more specialised in clocks. The other is Hans Kiening from Fussen, with similar dates, but mostly known for his instruments. In any case, their punch marks are not of the same form as the engraved monograms on these watches. In addition, of course, there is the additional letter N, which would strongly indicate the town of Nuremberg. To date there is no obvious candidate, but the fact that they are effectively jewels, it could be that the maker was a member of the goldsmiths guild.
class=Body> Provenance:
class=Body> Louis-Fidel Debruge-Duménil (1788-1838), French. After success in the property market, he began collecting in earnest during the last ten years of his life, apparently amassing some fifteen thousand objects dating from antiquity through to the 18th. century and including ivories, sculpture, enamels, jewels, arms, paintings and horology. An extensive study of the subject and catalogue of the important pieces in the collection (858 pages) was compiled by Jules Labarte (1.) (1797-1880), who trained as a lawyer before marrying Debruge-Dumenils daughter in 1823, and subsequently dedicating himself to the study of the History of Art. The book of the collection was published in 1847, and formed the basis for the immense auction that took place in Paris between 23 January and 12 March 1850, (2.) and included some 2061 lots. Buyers numbered all the major Museums and collectors of the age, including Prince Soltykoff. This watch was sold as lot 1457, to a Msr. Juste, an Expert in Paris, for 1900 francs, probably acting on behalf of Prince Soltykoff
class=Body> since he was an Expert for the Auction of the Princes subsequent sale in 1861.
class=Body> Prince Peter Soltykoff (1804-1889), Art collector; grandson of Count (later Prince) Nikolay Ivanovich Soltykoff (1736-1816), and son of Prince Dmitri Nikolaevich Soltykoff (1767-1826); Moved to Paris in 1840 where he assembled an important collection of medieval objects, including a superb group of early watches and clocks. The finest of these were catalogued by Pierre Dubois, horologist and author, and published in his book in 1858 (3.). This watch is illustrated and described under Plate XII, figs 1-3. Dubois considered it to be one of the finest surviving examples in Europe. Prince Soltykoffs entire Collection comprising 1100 lots was sold by auction between 8 April-1 May 1861 at Hôtel Drouot, Paris, and included some 87 "Renaissance" watches and clocks. This watch was sold as lot 406 for 3010 francs, by far the most expensive watch. It was purchased by a member of the Rothschild family.
class=Body> Literature:
class=Body> 1. Labarte, J. Description des Objets dArt qui Composent la Collection Debruge Dumenil, V. Didron, Paris,1847, p. 730, Item 1457.
class=Body> 2. Bonnefons De Lavialle, Catalogue des Objets dArt qui Composent la Collection Debruge Dumenil, Auction in Paris, January to March 1850, p.159, lot 1457.
class=Body> 3. Dubois, P., Collection Archéologique Du Prince Pierre Soltykoff , Horlogerie, V. Didron, Paris, 1858, Pl.XII, figs 1-3.
class=Body> 4. Pillet.C, Catalogue des Objets d'Art et de Haute Curiosité composant la Célèbre Collection du Prince Soltykoff ... dont la vente aura lieu... les lundi 8 avril et jours suivants... /, Paris, 1861, p. 113, Lot 406
class=Body> 5. Craft M.L., Only Time will Tell: Examination and Analysis of an Early German Watch, The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works, Vol 14, 2007, pp. 47-64.
class=Body> 6. J. Labarte online biography:​s/publications- numeriques/dictionnaire-critique-des-historiens-de-l-art/labarte-jules.html
class=Body> 7. Britten, F.W., Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers, E.& F. Spon, London 1932, 6th. edition, p.78, figs. 74,75. Described by Britten as not later than "mid-sixteenth - century work".
class=Body> 8. Mannheim, C. (Expert), Catalogue des Objets DArt….. composant limportante et précieuse Collection Spitzer , Paris, 1893, Vol.II, lot 2713 and pl. LXII.
class=Body> 9. Wypyski, Mark. 2002. Renaissance Enameled Jewelry and 19th Century Renaissance Revival: Characterization of Enamel Compositions. In Materials Issues in Art and Archaeology VI , ed. Pamela B. Vandiver et al. Warrendale, Pennsylvania: Materials Research Society. 223-233.
class=Body> 10. Wypyski, Mark. 2005. Unpublished analytical report for watch WAM #58.31.
Estimate  120,000 - 250,000 €
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