longcase regulator

Nicolas Gribelin, Clockmaker (1637-1715)
Attributed to André-Charles Boulle, Cabinetmaker (French, 1642-1732)

Currently on View in H214
Image Licensing

Indianapolis Museum of Art: Highlights of the Collection (2005)

Made of ebony, tortoiseshell, pewter, and brass, this clock's opulent veneer was almost certainly made by André-Charles Boulle, a cabinetmaker so skilled that his name became synonymous with this marquetry technique: boullework. In 1672, Boulle was appointed ébéniste du Roi-cabinetmaker to the king-and he received his own studio and living quarters in the Louvre. There he enjoyed special privileges allowing him to produce works for Louis XIV and other clients free from the strict guild rules governing the division of labor. As a result, Boulle was able to control the complete design and construction of his works.

The IMA's timepiece is an early French example of a so-called longcase clock, designed to accommodate a long pendulum; it is the ancestor of the familiar grandfather clock. Also attributed to Boulle, the gilt bronze figure supporting the dial represents Cronos, known in some Greek traditions as Father Time. Below the figure is engraved GRIBELIN A PARIS. On one of the moldings below this are pewter fleurs-de-lys, which could be a symbol of a royal family member. Only about seven similar longcase clocks survive that are attributed to Boulle. A description of a related clock appears in a 1689 inventory of the belongings of Louis XIV's son, called the dauphin, at the château of Versailles.

Cronos the Ruddy, steer your boat
Toward Silver Island whence we sing;
Here you shall pass your days.

-Poet Robert Graves, from "The Sirens' Welcome to Cronos"

Auctioned at Nouveau Drouot, Paris, in 1985; Bernard Landman, Indianapolis; purchased from Bernard Landman with a Gift of the Decorative Arts Society, the Alliance of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and in memory of Dorothy Pettis Bookwalter for the Indianapolis Museum of Art in September 1989.

Object Information

Nicolas Gribelin (1637-1715)
Attributed to André-Charles Boulle (French, 1642-1732)
creation date
about 1673
ebony, tortoise shell, pewter, brass, gilt bronze
82-1/2 in.
mark descriptions
Stamp on pedestal, verso, at the top of pedestal: F. GOYER J.M.E.
Signed on plate, verso: Gribelin A. Paris
Signed on brass plate, recto: Gribelin A. Paris
accession number
credit line
Gift of the Decorative Arts Society, the Alliance of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and in memory of Dorothy Pettis Bookwalter
Public Domain
Decorative Arts

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