Reloj de sobremesa. El nacimiento de un príncipe francés [Table Clock]

Reloj de sobremesa. El nacimiento de un príncipe francés [Table Clock]

  • c. 1886
  • Gilded bronze and enamelled metal
  • 86 x 81 x 34 cm
  • Cat. R_61
  • Acquired in 1969
  • Observations: French school.Louis 14th style
Amelia Aranda Huete

Julio Bragado, an antique dealer with a shop at No. 27 Calle de Velázquez in Madrid, offered this clock to the Governor of the Banco de España on 7 November 1969, when the bank was undertaking extension work. He described it as a fire-gilt bronze clock depicting the birth of a French prince and dated it to the end of the 18th century. His asking price was 300,000 pesetas. Jesús María Fernández, the clock master at the Banco de España, inspected the clock and established that it was not in working order but could be easily repaired. A few pieces were missing and the movement and the case required some work. The offer was therefore accepted, but Mr. Alcocer, secretary to the Banco de España’s Works Committee, was tasked with negotiating a price reduction of 25,000 pesetas. José Manuel Ferrer, Head of the Curatorship Division and Library, confirmed that the clock was an allegory of Industry and Commerce. It was purchased for 275,000 pesetas on 14 November 1969 and was unveiled in the ceremonial dining room.

The face of the god Apollo surrounded by rays of lights and abundant clouds is the feature of the case of this clock. It is made out of gilded bronze and has a face depicting a globe of the earth enamelled in shades of blue on the top.Three female figures in classical garments are holding a garland in their hands.The design is finished with five puttis or cherubs distributed over the rest of the case. The one at the top is holding a sheaf of wheat in his hands; the one on the right has a cup and a cornucopia; and the one at the bottom has a bow and several arrows at his feet. The other two have possibly lost what they were holding in their hands.The clock is on a plinth with a coat of arms in the centre.

The hours in Roman numerals are embossed on the front of the face.

The movement is French and is in the Paris style. It is not signed and does not have a production stamp.The wheel train with spring drive keeps the watch running for eight days. Pin-pallet escapement and pendulum. Hour and half-hour chiming mechanism using a countwheel and chime.

The double coat of arms is of a very important French family: the Séguier-Kerrets. Pierre Séguier (1858-1936) was an artillery officer and the 4th Baron Séguier. He was the son of Antoine Joseph Maurice Séguier and Maurice Philippine Antoine Charlotte de Goyon. In 1886 he married Isabelle de Kerret de Quillien (1866-1954), the daughter of Jean René Maurice, Viscount Kerret de Quillien, and of Marie Léonie Gaultier.

The Séguier coat of arms is described as: D'azur, au chevron d'or, accompagné en chef de deux étoiles du même et en pointe d'un mouton arrêté d'argent (‘Azure, with a gold chevron, with two stars at the top and a standing ram in argent at the point’). That of the Kerrets is ‘Quartered, 1 and 3 in gold, sable lion and blazoned gules plain; 2 and 3 of silver, with two azure facing doves pecking and a membrane of gules’. Both coats of arms appear on the lower part of the case One of the mottos used by the family can also be made out: INDOLE BONUS.

This clock must date to after the wedding as both coats of arms are shown.

One of Pierre Séguier’s ancestors was Chancellor of France under Louis XIV. The clock case is therefore inspired by the rococo models produced during Louis XIV’s reign.

It is believed that Pierre Séguier commissioned it on the occasion of his wedding and that the case is a copy of a clock made in the 18th century. The movement supports this dating.

Amelia Aranda Huete


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