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Skeletonized, Quarter-repeating Watch

Not on view

Skeletonized, Quarter-repeating Watch

Date: c. 1810
Medium: Gold, gilt metal, enamel, steel
Dimensions:
76.2 x 57.2 x 20.6 mm
Markings: Movement: incuse stamp "ALD(?), 548(?)" Pendant: French eagle head control mark (struck twice)
Credit Line: Proctor Collection, Thomas R. Proctor Watch Collection
Object number: PC. 359
Text Entries

Enamel portrait miniatures of military figures were a popular subject on watchcases at the beginning of the nineteenth century, often to commemorate heroes from the Napoleonic wars. The image on this case is rendered in the neoclassical style with a bust-length portrait of an officer proudly displaying his medals, most likely a result of valor on the battlefield. He wears a red uniform with a blue sash upon which is pinned a Maltese cross; another medal hangs from a ribbon around his neck. A gold braid forms am epaulette on his right shoulder and cascades down his arm. A gold laurel leaf wreath symbolizing the victor’s crown surrounds the portrait.

The artist has precisely delineated the young officer’s straight nose, blue eyes, perfect lips, and curly red hair, features strongly resembling those in portraits of the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852).(1) Portrait miniatures of this type are also seen on snuff boxes during this period (see PC. 218).(2)

This is a skeletonized watch because its plates have been pierced and cut away to show much of the working movement. On the watch face, Arabic numbers on the ring-like dial surround the skeletonized area.

 

1. The catalogue of the Thomas Proctor Collection identifies the portrait on this watch as the Duke of Wellington. See Ferdinand T. Haschka, The Thomas R. Proctor Collection of Antique Watches (New York: privately printed, 1907), p. 68.

2. For illustrations of snuff boxes with miniature portraits, see Clare Le Corbeiller, European and American Snuff Boxes, 1730-1830 (New York: Viking Press, 1966), figs. 511-15.