Precious Time: The Apollo Clock, Late Seventeenth Century

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Late Seventeenth
The Royal Collection

King George IV—even as a young prince and Prince Regent—had an insatiable desire to collect objects, especially those related to King Louis XIV of France and Versailles. His lust took Charles Foster Kane-like proportions, so much so that he often never even displayed the items which he collected, but kept them in storage after spending thousands of pounds on them. Was he a Royal hoarder or just passionate? We’ll never know. However, looking at his huge assemblage of items, we do know that he had very good taste.

George IV had such a desire to collect that he was known, as one does, to send his staff members out shopping for him. A favorite was His Majesty’s pastry chef, François Benois who often shopped for the Prince Regent/King. On one of his shopping expeditions in Paris, Benois came upon this important tall-case clock which had belonged to King Louis XIV as evidenced by Louis’ emblem, the mask of Apollo, which is nestled into the elaborate cresting of the case. Of course, Benois knew he had to return with this rather enormous timepiece and took great pains in doing so.

Upon arrival at Carlton House, this late Seventeenth Century clock—which George IV was said to greatly admire—was packed away in storage, never being displayed. Unlike Louis XIV, George IV had space issues in his residences. Presumably Louis never ran out of room at Versailles, but Carlton House wasn’t without its limits. Why George IV didn’t use this clock at the Brighton Pavillion, we’ll never know. However, it’s long life in storage has preserved it quite well so that future generations will be able to enjoy its magnificence.


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