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Barometrical clock

Alexander Cumming1763 - 1765

Royal Collection Trust, UK

Royal Collection Trust, UK
London, United Kingdom

A clock driven barograph with rosewood and padouk case with ivory interior fitting and chased gilt bronze ornaments surmounting the dial: elderly man (Time) with book and putto. Floral swags suspended from lion masks decorate pilasters flanking barometer, military trophies below.

Among the substantial number of precision horological and scientific instruments that George III assembled at Buckingham House in the early part of the reign this exceptional barograph is outstanding for both its mechanical complexity and the richness of its case. The movement was designed and made by the Scot, Alexander Cumming, and incorporates a month-going regulator clock with Cumming's own escapement and an Ellicott compensating pendulum. A siphon wheel barometer in the trunk, supported between ivory Corinthian columns, is mechanically connected to the concentric six- and twelve-month charts which surround the clock dial.

This barograph cost the King the large sum of £1,178, to which he added a payment of £150 and an annual retainer to Cumming of £37 10s for maintaining the barograph. The identity of Cumming's cabinet-maker is unknown, but a likely candidate may be William Vile with whose work the barograph case bears comparison, especially in the use of pierced gilt bronze angles (at the base) and pierced shell ornament (below the dial). The mount-maker (or makers, as more than one hand seems to have been involved) is equally unknown: the vividly modelled and finely chased drops of flowers at the angles of the trunk are of remarkable quality, but quite different in character and finish to the martial trophies below. The origin of the gilt bronze group of Time(?) assisted by Cupid has not been identified but John Flaxman the Elder (1726-95) and the elder John Bacon (1740-99) are known to have supplied the bronze trade with models of this general type, some of which were certainly used on clock cases.

Details

  • Title: Barometrical clock
  • Creator: Alexander Cumming
  • Date Created: 1763 - 1765
  • Physical Dimensions: w578 x h2432 x d457 mm
  • Type: Horology
  • External Link: http://www.rct.uk/collection/2752
  • Medium: Oak case with padouk veneer and gilt bronze mounts, ivory interior columns
  • Provenance: Made for George III, 1763-5

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