Longcase equation clock

For a patron with the knowledge of clocks and clockmaking that George III certainly possessed, the appeal of a clock of this type lay in the equation of time movement constructed by one of the leading French horological theorists of the day, Ferdinand Berthoud. It may also be fair to say that the handsomely mounted case, one of the most felicitous creations of the cabinet-maker and sculptor Charles Cressent, would also have aroused the King's admiration, but the fact that it appears in the background of Zoffany's celebrated portrait of Queen Charlotte with her two elder sons strongly suggests that its acquisition was as much or perhaps more in deference to the Queen's taste for continental furniture as to the King's for horological invention. The date of acquisition is not known, but as it seems likely to have belonged (and to have been made for) the Trésorier-général of the French navy, M. de Selle, whose collection was sold in Paris in 1761; it had probably only recently arrived at the time Zoffany painted it (c. 1765). At a later date it was in the Queen's Sitting Room at Kew. Berthoud, who was awarded the rare distinction for a foreigner of election to a Fellowship of the Royal Society of London in 1764, became a maître-horloger in 1753. The case must therefore be a relatively late repetition of a model that Cressent first devised in the 1730s, but which remained popular late into the reign of Louis XV. The well-integrated and finely finished mounts show Cressent's skill as a sculptor to great advantage. The original movement was replaced by an eight-day equation movement made by B.L. Vulliamy in 1821 and numbered 783. Inscribed on the dial Ferdinand Berthoud A Paris and Vulliamy LONDON A.D. 1821; movement inscribed Vulliamy LONDON

Likely to have belonged (and to have been made for) the Trésorier-général of the French navy, M. de Selle, whose collection was sold in Paris in 1761; acquired George III by 1765

About Ferdinand Berthoud