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Exhibit № 10. The Lennox Pluvier, Circa 1664

Exhibit № 10. The Lennox Pluvier, Circa 1664

A superb and very unusual Charles II gold and enamel watch with Julian and Gregorian calendar and rare subsidiary seconds, by Isack Pluvier, London

£65,000


Height

Diameter: 2⅓ inches (60 mm)

Case

The polished gold centre-banded and double glazed case; the obverse with a five-bar hinged and glazed split bezel; the plain gold central band with swivelling turned pommel and loose ring pendant; the reverse with similarly hinged split bezel, glazed to reveal the backplate with subsidiary seconds.

Dial

The very unusual and decorative 57 mm polychrome enamel dial has a central rotating hour disc, depicting Venus and Cupid, registering against the encircling translucent green champlevé enamel chapter ring with gold Roman numerals, itself encircled by a blue champlevé enamel ring for date of month with gold Arabic numerals and two steel indicators for the Gregorian and Julian calendars, and a final outer adjustable ring disc for blue enamelled Arabic days of the week, annotated by their symbol in a gilt band.

Movement

The gilt full plate movement has stylised tulip-form pillars, with fusee and gut line, a pre-balance spring two-arm plain steel balance with a most unusual silver, pierced and engraved, balance cock depicting Mercury within stylised fauna, and blued-steel openwork for the worm-and-wheel enamelled set-up disc, bearing a polychrome enamel with a blindfolded figure of Fortuna. The backplate signed Isack Pluvier Londini Fecit in early cursive script, flanking a very unusual subsidiary Arabic seconds ring, centred by a polychrome enamel of Chronos, with a delicate steel seconds hand.

Duration

30 hours

Provenance

Frances Teresa Stuart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox (1647-1702), and left, together with Lennoxlove House, Scotland, to her cousin;
Walter Stuart, 6th Lord Blantryre, thence by decent to;
The 12th, and last, Lord Blantryre of Lennoxlove House who died in 1900, by descent to his daughter;
The Hon. Ellen, Lady Baird (nee Stuart), and thence by descent until sold;
Sotheby’s, 25th Sept. 2005, lot 207, sold for £50,400;
John C Taylor Collection, inventory no.170

Literature

Garnier & Hollis, Innovation & Collaboration, 2018, (illus.) p.201

Escapement

Verge with plain steel balance and early screwed silver cock

Exhibited

2018, London, Innovation & Collaboration, exhibit no.41

Frances Teresa Stuart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox (1647-1702), was particularly famed for her great beauty and was known as La Belle Stuart, serving, as she did, as the model for an idealised Britannia on British coinage. She was the daughter of Walter Stuart, a physician in Queen Henrietta Maria’s court, and a distant relative of the royal family. She was born on 8th July 1647 in exile in Paris, but was sent to England in 1663 after the Restoration by Charles I’s widow, Henrietta Maria, as maid of honour and subsequently as lady-in-waiting to Charles II’s new bride, Catherine of Braganza.

The diarist Samuel Pepys commented about her on 13th July 1663 that with her sweet eye, little Roman nose, and excellent taille, [she] is now the greatest beauty I ever saw. She had numerous suitors, including the Duke of Buckingham and the son of the Earl of Bristol, Francis Digby, whose unrequited love for her was celebrated by the poet, John Dryden. Her beauty appeared to some of her contemporaries to be equalled only by her childish silliness, Philibert, Count de Gramont (1621-1707) saying of her that it would be difficult to imagine less brain combined with more beauty, however her surviving letters to her husband are certainly not devoid of good sense and feelings.

While a member of the royal court, she caught the eye of Charles II who, as was his habit, immediately fell in love with her. The king’s infatuation was so great that when the queen’s life was in the balance in 1663, it was reported that he intended to marry Frances Stewart and, because of this watch’s expense, beauty and novelty, it is tempting to consider that, with its love-themed dial, it might have been given to Frances as a token of the king’s desire. Four years later, she was still refusing to become his mistress and he apparently continued to consider the possibility of a divorce, to enable him to make her his wife.

Eventually in 1667, Frances married Charles Stewart, 3rd Duke of Richmond, 6th Duke of Lennox (1639–1672), a fourth cousin of King Charles II. It is possible she had to elope after being discovered with Richmond by Lady Castlemaine, a renowned and partisan rival for the king’s affections, who the king would later give an extraordinary clock which remains with her descendant, and is now known as the Castlemaine Tompion (Thomas Tompion 300 Years, p.384-5).

The now Duchess of Richmond soon returned to court, where she remained for many years and, although she was disfigured by smallpox in 1669, she retained her hold on the king’s affections. It is certain, at least, that Charles went on to post the Duke to Scotland and then to Denmark as ambassador, where he died in 1672 and they had produced no children.

The duchess was present in 1688 at the birth of James Francis Edward Stuart (The Old Pretender), son of James II, and was one of those who signed the certificate before the council. She died aged 55 in 1702 and following her death, Lethington castle in Haddingtonshire, Scotland was purchased by her trustees for the benefit of her neare and deare kinsman the said Walter Stuart, eldest son of her cousin, Alexander, 5th Lord Blantyre, who became the 6th Lord Blantyre on the death of his father in 1704. The Duchess had stipulated that the property be called Lennox’s Love to Blantyre. This was subsequently shortened to Lennoxlove, and the house remained, together with the present watch and other now famous chattels of the duchess, in the ownership of the family until the house was sold to the 14th Duke of Hamilton in 1946.

Isack Pluvier (d.1665) was a Dutchman of Huguenot descent with family relations in Haarlem. He was admitted to the Clockmakers’ in 1637 as a journeyman to fellow Huguenot, David Bouquet, possibly having trained abroad. He took Joseph Munday (see previous exhibit no.7, p.34) as apprentice in 1647, and obtained his full Freedom of the Clockmakers Company in 1652. He had a relatively short career and died in 1665, perhaps in the Great Plague. Interestingly, his will from 1665 still exists, in which there is an inventory of the watches from his shop, and he died shortly afterwards, ‘being sicke in body’. The use of a subsidiary seconds dial was very unusual at this time, but according to the will inventory it was a particular feature of his, however, the two Pluvier watches in the British museum do not have subsidiary seconds, but another example sold at Christie’s Geneva in May 1995, does incorporate a seconds dial to the backplate.

Due to the inaccuracies of early watches, relatively few were made with minute hands prior to the introduction of the balance spring and, given the extraordinary rarity of minute indication at this time, it is all the more remarkable to find seconds indication to this glazed backplate. Before balance springs, the seconds dial would have been useful for measuring only very short durations, but here it would likely have acted as an intriguing and attractive novelty to Her Grace, the Duchess of Richmond and Lennox. Viewing the backplate, it is interesting to see Pluvier’s signature specially laid out to either side of the seconds dial, the seconds dial itself is heightened with a superb and expensive polychrome enamel to the centre, while the Arabic calibrations to the seconds dial run counter-clockwise, as the hand is mounted on an extended arbor on the contrate wheel.

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Product Description

Frances Teresa Stuart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox (1647-1702), was particularly famed for her great beauty and was known as La Belle Stuart, serving, as she did, as the model for an idealised Britannia on British coinage. She was the daughter of Walter Stuart, a physician in Queen Henrietta Maria’s court, and a distant relative of the royal family. She was born on 8th July 1647 in exile in Paris, but was sent to England in 1663 after the Restoration by Charles I’s widow, Henrietta Maria, as maid of honour and subsequently as lady-in-waiting to Charles II’s new bride, Catherine of Braganza.

The diarist Samuel Pepys commented about her on 13th July 1663 that with her sweet eye, little Roman nose, and excellent taille, [she] is now the greatest beauty I ever saw. She had numerous suitors, including the Duke of Buckingham and the son of the Earl of Bristol, Francis Digby, whose unrequited love for her was celebrated by the poet, John Dryden. Her beauty appeared to some of her contemporaries to be equalled only by her childish silliness, Philibert, Count de Gramont (1621-1707) saying of her that it would be difficult to imagine less brain combined with more beauty, however her surviving letters to her husband are certainly not devoid of good sense and feelings.

While a member of the royal court, she caught the eye of Charles II who, as was his habit, immediately fell in love with her. The king’s infatuation was so great that when the queen’s life was in the balance in 1663, it was reported that he intended to marry Frances Stewart and, because of this watch’s expense, beauty and novelty, it is tempting to consider that, with its love-themed dial, it might have been given to Frances as a token of the king’s desire. Four years later, she was still refusing to become his mistress and he apparently continued to consider the possibility of a divorce, to enable him to make her his wife.

Eventually in 1667, Frances married Charles Stewart, 3rd Duke of Richmond, 6th Duke of Lennox (1639–1672), a fourth cousin of King Charles II. It is possible she had to elope after being discovered with Richmond by Lady Castlemaine, a renowned and partisan rival for the king’s affections, who the king would later give an extraordinary clock which remains with her descendant, and is now known as the Castlemaine Tompion (Thomas Tompion 300 Years, p.384-5).

The now Duchess of Richmond soon returned to court, where she remained for many years and, although she was disfigured by smallpox in 1669, she retained her hold on the king’s affections. It is certain, at least, that Charles went on to post the Duke to Scotland and then to Denmark as ambassador, where he died in 1672 and they had produced no children.

The duchess was present in 1688 at the birth of James Francis Edward Stuart (The Old Pretender), son of James II, and was one of those who signed the certificate before the council. She died aged 55 in 1702 and following her death, Lethington castle in Haddingtonshire, Scotland was purchased by her trustees for the benefit of her neare and deare kinsman the said Walter Stuart, eldest son of her cousin, Alexander, 5th Lord Blantyre, who became the 6th Lord Blantyre on the death of his father in 1704. The Duchess had stipulated that the property be called Lennox’s Love to Blantyre. This was subsequently shortened to Lennoxlove, and the house remained, together with the present watch and other now famous chattels of the duchess, in the ownership of the family until the house was sold to the 14th Duke of Hamilton in 1946.

Isack Pluvier (d.1665) was a Dutchman of Huguenot descent with family relations in Haarlem. He was admitted to the Clockmakers’ in 1637 as a journeyman to fellow Huguenot, David Bouquet, possibly having trained abroad. He took Joseph Munday (see previous exhibit no.7, p.34) as apprentice in 1647, and obtained his full Freedom of the Clockmakers Company in 1652. He had a relatively short career and died in 1665, perhaps in the Great Plague. Interestingly, his will from 1665 still exists, in which there is an inventory of the watches from his shop, and he died shortly afterwards, ‘being sicke in body’. The use of a subsidiary seconds dial was very unusual at this time, but according to the will inventory it was a particular feature of his, however, the two Pluvier watches in the British museum do not have subsidiary seconds, but another example sold at Christie’s Geneva in May 1995, does incorporate a seconds dial to the backplate.

Due to the inaccuracies of early watches, relatively few were made with minute hands prior to the introduction of the balance spring and, given the extraordinary rarity of minute indication at this time, it is all the more remarkable to find seconds indication to this glazed backplate. Before balance springs, the seconds dial would have been useful for measuring only very short durations, but here it would likely have acted as an intriguing and attractive novelty to Her Grace, the Duchess of Richmond and Lennox. Viewing the backplate, it is interesting to see Pluvier’s signature specially laid out to either side of the seconds dial, the seconds dial itself is heightened with a superb and expensive polychrome enamel to the centre, while the Arabic calibrations to the seconds dial run counter-clockwise, as the hand is mounted on an extended arbor on the contrate wheel.

Additional information

Dimensions 5827373 cm