Long-Case Regulator Clock

Longcase Regulator Clock
Case by Balthazar Lieutaud (d. 1780)
French, Paris, c. 1750–55
93 ½ x 24 ½ x 9 in. (237.5 x 62.2 x 22.9 cm)
Private collection

Location: East Vestibule

The impressive long-case regulator clock displayed in the East Vestibule near the museum’s Entrance Hall was made in Paris around 1750−55, when the fashion for rococo design was at its peak. A perfect example of this highly decorative style, the clock’s shape eschews straight lines in favor of a fanciful play of curves and counter-curves, adorned by heavy gilt-bronze mounts that call to mind the branches of a tree. Although the mounts take their inspiration from nature, they are not representational but rather a pure fantasy of the rococo style. The clock is topped by a winged figure of Time made by an unknown craftsman. The figure holds a scythe in one hand and an hourglass in the other as reminders of man’s mortality. The case was made by Balthazar Lieutaud, who became a master cabinetmaker in 1749, only a few years before creating this piece. About a decade later, in 1767, he executed a long-case clock that was purchased by Henry Clay Frick in 1915 and is now displayed at the foot of the Grand Staircase. It was made in the newly fashionable neoclassical style, which evolved in response to the extravagance of the rococo. This later clock is crowned by a gilt-bronze group representing Apollo riding his chariot, made by the bronzemaker Philippe Caffiéri.