Height

17¾ inches

Case

All over polychrome decorated with dark green cross-hatched panels and crimson highlights with sprays of flowers, foliage, birds and figures on the areas of cream ground between. The inverted-bell top with a brass Quare style S-scroll baluster handle, the shallow breakarch front door flanked by frets, the sides with breakarch glazed apertures below D-ended frets, the interior washed in red, sitting on a moulded base with turned brass bun feet.

Dial

6¾ inch shallow breakarch brass dial with wheatear border and crown-and-sceptre spandrels. The engraved shallow arch with scrolling foliage signed Jos. Windmills London in an arc above the strike/silent lever at XII, silvered chapter-ring with pierced blued-steel hands, the matted centre with paste-set mock pendulum in the aperture and date square with adjusting slot above, for use with spiked end of the winding key.

Movement

5¾ by 7¼ inch plates with five baluster pillars, twin fusees and spring barrels with outside clicks and engraved click-spring, verge escapement and bob pendulum. Rack striking on a large bell and pull-quarter repeating on five graduated bells, the backplate engraved with symmetrical foliage and scrolls signed Jos Windmills LONDON within an oval cartouche with wheatear border.

Duration

8 days.

Provenance

Spanish noble family, and sold Bonhams London, 7 July 2009, lot 132, sold for £67,200;

The Tom Scott Collection.

Comparative Literature

JA Neale, Joseph and Thomas Windmills Clock and Watch Makers 1671-1737, 1999, pp.166-67.

Notes

Although these colours are rare, this style of japanned decoration was popular for export furniture and this clock may have been part of a suite supplied to the original noble Iberian family.

This clock was almost certainly bought new from Joseph Windmills circa 1710 and was in the same family ownership until sold at Bonhams London in 2009. It is a remarkable survival of a rare type of clock that Windmills made very infrequently and only for very important clients.

Decorating furniture and other objects in imitation of Chinese lacquer work was the height of fashion in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The best known work detailing techniques and offering designs is ‘A Treatise on Japanning’ written by Stalker and Parker in 1696.

Japanned bracket clock cases were more challenging than longcase clocks; it is rare to find a design that truly works well, and when an example is seen, such as this clock, the effect can be quite breathtaking. Of particular merit is the survival of the pierced and decorated sound frets.

The clock also benefits from having its original pierced gilt brass winding key. The key is double ended with a tapered nib at one end. On months with less than 31 days, this nib could be inserted into the slot above the date aperture on the dial to advance the date.

Joseph Windmills was most definitely one of the finest makers working at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. Several examples of his movements, dial engraving or cases are almost identical to that of his better known contemporaries such as Thomas Tompion and Daniel Quare. The current movement has many similarities to the work of the latter and Neale illustrates a Daniel Quare movement from the British Museum that is almost identical.