• Pocket watch by Pieter Swaan

  • RĂ©gence chatelaine

  • Watch by Baillon

The 'Swaan' has returned, and other news on watches

Pocket watch by Pieter Swaan
Dick Verburg: 'It is such a pleasure to have this pocket watch back in our premises. Around 1750 this was the hight of watchmaking one could find in Amsterdam. The case and the inside: everything is so incredibly detailed and richly worked. That's not surprising, because the great clock and watchmaker Pieter Swaan made the watch and Maurice, originally from Switzerland, the case. The scene is from an emotional moment in the Iliad: Hector saying goodbye to his wife Andromache to fight for the honour of his family. She unsuccessfully tries to convince him not to go. This pocket watch is so beautiful it will never get boring.’

Chatelaine with dogs
'This is a nice puzzle. The exquisite chatelaine with mythological scenes clearly is French Régence (1715-1730). The scallop motifs were popular back then. But the seals - the dogs - are British Chelsea porcelain and date from around 1770. Do they belong together? Yes and no. We acquired this chatelaine in the current state. Probably someone acquired the already existing chatelaine around 1770 and added the seals himself. And that's the whole point, like charms on a bracelet, seals are meants to personalize a chatelaine. The owner also chose his own engravings in the seals. The Dalmation dogs are charming: one has 'Fidèle', loyal, written on it, because that's the trait of these dogs. The Chelsea porcelain factory was founded around 1743-1745 by two Frenchmen, 1 was silversmith, the other goldsmith.

Popular scene on a ‘royal’ watchmaker’s watch

‘A scene ‘after Teniers’, as it is called. Homely, popular, bourgeois scenes like these are named after the South-Netherlandish baroque painter David Teniers the Younger. He excelled in this. However humble the scene is, the maker moved in more lofty circles. Jean-Baptiste Baillon was ‘Horloger’ and ‘Premier Valet de Chambre’ of both Queen Maria Leczinska, spouse of Louis XV, and of Marie Antoinette when she was still ‘Dauphine’, Crown Princess. The Baillons were a dynasty of clockmakers and several were names Jean-Baptiste. So it is important to distinguish between them. It’s easy with this watch, because watches with scenes ‘after Teniers’ were made around 1750. Clocks and watches by Baillon can be found in museum collections all over the world.’

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