A stunning late 17th century Tortoise shell and Boulle work French clock with early large arc verge (crownwheel) escapement by Isaac II Thuret (1630–1706), This unique example was made by one of France’s greatest clockmakers who was not only Clockmaker to the king but had had his workshops in the Louvre, this location allowed Isaac to have access to France’s greatest craftsmen of the time.
The case is almost certainly made by the famous Andre Charles Boulle (1642 – 1732) Christened by his contemporaries as “the most skillful artisan in Paris,” André-Charles Boulle’s name is synonymous with the practice of veneering furniture and clocks with marquetry of tortoiseshell, pewter, and brass. Although he did not invent the technique, Boulle was its greatest practitioner and lent his name to its common name: boulle work. Boulle also specialized in floral marquetry in both stained and naturally colored wood. Many of his designs are illustrated in a book of engravings published around 1720.
Before 1666 Boulle was awarded the title of master cabinetmaker; in 1672 the king granted him the royal privilege of lodging in the Palais du Louvre. In the same year, he achieved the title of cabinetmaker and sculptor to Louis XIV, king of France. This new title allowed him to produce furniture as well as works in gilt bronze such as chandeliers, wall lights, and mounts. Although strict guild rules usually prevented craftsmen from practicing two professions simultaneously, Boulle’s favored position allowed him protected status and exempted him from these statutes. It needs to be noted that this clock is over 300 years old and this fact alone demonstrates the sheer craftsmanship that skill these early makers had.
Isaac Thuret was one of the first French clockmakers to make pendulum clocks and held the royal appointment. His son Jacques III Thuret (1669–1738), was appointed clockmaker to Louis XIV of France in 1694. A perquisite of the royal appointment was the use of workshops in the Galeries du Louvre, where since the time of Henri IV, the outstanding artists, designers and craftsmen were granted workshop spaces, fostering cross-fertilisation among the arts. As one consequence there are numerous clocks by the Thuret dynasty in cases of rich tortoiseshell and brass marquetry designed by André Charles Boulle; This is one such remarkable clock by Isacc Thuret. Another similar clock by Jacques or his father is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Another example, the Barometer Clock, is at the Frick Collection. There is also a clock by this maker in the royal collection.
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