Eardley Norton, London
- Price £12,000
- 252.00cm high x 54.00cm wide x 27.00cm deep
The movement is eight day duration and is of a high quality, slightly more substantial and with plates larger than was standard. There is a facility that allows the strike to be silenced and more unusually on a longcase clock, a mechanism for repeating the last hour by pulling a cord inside the trunk door.
The 12″ brass dial has a recessed seconds chapter within the frosted matting as well as the date aperture below. Each corner of the dial is decorated with a applied cast brass and gilded rococo spandrel, screwed from the back and curved on the inside to frame the outer edge of the chapter ring. Boldly engraved around the edge of the arch is the handsome signature and address of Eardley Norton, who had the curious practice of sometimes turning his name into an anagram. Although unclear as to the exact reasons why he did this, it is possible that this was some way of skirting Guild or excise exigencies. Born in Lincolnshire in 1728, on moving to London his business for over thirty years, was at 49 St Johns Street, Clerkenwell until his death in 1792.
Mahogany was the dominant wood of the period and is utilised to fine effect in the case. A good height gives full rein to the proportions of the impressive pagoda which is embellished with a combination of fretwork. At the top, three pilasters each support a superb fluted brass finial. The colour of the veneers has a attractive subtle variation in the patina, only the dominant features such as the trunk door and base panel are applied with curl veneer, the sides and mouldings are of solid mahogany. Fluted columns to the hood and long quarter columns on the trunk with brass capitals, bases and fluting add the grand, elegant proportions of the clock as a whole.
Oriental influences had been present in furniture decoration since the late 17th century particularly in lacquer work but Chinese architecture had greater effect on British taste from the 1750’s. Sir William Chambers was born in Sweden and made three trips to China with the Swedish East India Company studying architecture and design; on his return he furthered his endeavours in Paris and Italy. Thus when he arrived in London in 1755 he was well immersed in both the classical and oriental disciplines and an ideal person to help Augusta Dowager Princess of Wales to develop her gardens at Kew, centre of which was the stunning Pagoda. In 1757 he also published “Designs of Chinese Buildings, furniture, dresses, machines, and utensils”, other works followed but it was this treatise that produced the biggest ripples in late Georgian taste.