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Watch

Artist: Jubilé Chappuis (Paris, France; active beginning c.1800)

Date: c. 1825
Medium: Yellow and green gold, turquoise, paste stones, steel
Dimensions:
60.3 x 44.5 x 17.5 mm
Markings: Movement: "Jubilé Chappuis à Paris"
Credit Line: Proctor Collection, Thomas R. Proctor Watch Collection
Object number: PC. 340
Label Text
In the first decades of the nineteenth century, Parisian watchmakers and jewelers continued to decorate cases with multicolored gold, but allegorical representations of love were supplanted by bold, naturalistic configurations. On this example, green-gold shells, rosettes, and gemstones are arranged in a ray. The decorative scheme also employs granulation--small gold balls fused to the background--to fill areas around other embellishments.
Text Entries

By the time of the Restoration watchmakers in Paris continued to decorate cases with multicolored gold, but they eschewed neoclassical motifs popular at the end of the previous century. Instead they chose bold design configurations such as the one on this watch, where shells and rosettes are arranged in a ray pattern. The decoration is embellished with gemstones and gold grainti, which gives the watch a strong jewel-like interpretation.

The decorative scheme on this watchcase is similar to jewelry from the period in its use of shells and grainti; jewelers used grainti and filigree to accentuate or border gemstones.(1) The use of grainti en masse on this piece fills the area around the shells and gemstones. The composition is arranged with a large shell near the base serving as the focal point. The shell leads the eye to quasicircular arrays of foil-backed paste stones, shells, gold balls with spirals, and turquoises. The shells and balls with spirals are made out of green gold.(2) The decorative motif, according to the cataloguer of Thomas Proctor’s collection, suggests “an aquatic piece of ornament. It is covered with little points and dots in imitation of a pebble covered ground upon which sea roses, shells ... precious stones and other objects of the sea are placed.”(3)

Although the firm of Jubilé Chappuis is recorded in Geneva in 1800(4) by 1825 it must have opened a workshop in Paris: the movement on this watch is marked with the firm name and the latter city. It is not known whether Chappuis or a watchcase maker decorated the case.

1. For illustrations of jewelry with grainti, see Shirley Bury, Jewellery Summary Catalogue (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982), 1:195, fig. 93; 1:264, pl. 63; 1:268, pl. 64; 1:290, pl. 70; 1:294, pl. 72A and B; 1:295, pl. 73; 1:344, pl. 84.

2. Henri Vever included an illustration of a similarly designed watch in the first volume of his book, La bijouterie francaise au XIX siécle (1800-1900), vol. 1, Consulat-empire-restauration- Louis-Phillipe (1906; reprint, Firenze, Italy: Studio Per Edizioni Scelte, n.d.), facing page 128.

3. Ferdinand T. Haschka, The Thomas R. Proctor Collection of Antique Watches (New York: privately printed, 1907), p. 26.

4. G. H. Baillie, C. Clutton, and C. A. Ilbert, Britten’s Old Clocks and Watches and Their Makers. 7th ed. (New York: Bonanza Books, 1956), p. 351.