“Luxury of Time” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

February 9th 2016

The Luxury of Time: European Clocks & Watches

An exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York until March 27, 2016

Detail of the enamel and gitl dial of a clock by Ferdinand Berthoud, c.1768-70. Copyright the Metrpolitan Museum of Art.

Detail of the enamel and gilt dial of a clock by Ferdinand Berthoud, c.1768-70. Copyright the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Horology enthusiasts will want to visit New York City before the end of winter to partake of an exquisite exhibition of clocks and watches from the Metropolitan Museum’s wide-ranging collections. The exhibition, entitled “The Luxury of Time,” brings together Swiss, German, English and French clocks and watches, ranging in date from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. Many of the museum’s horological treasures are spread throughout the museum’s decorative arts and architectural galleries, with clocks gracing many of the reconstructed interiors and historic rooms that are a hallmark of the MET. Some of the best examples have now been brought together for this exhibition, providing a unique opportunity to investigate the incredible craftsmanship and skill of the great clockmakers of Europe – from enamelled watches to mantel clocks and automaton clocks, the exhibition “explores the relationship between the artistry of the exterior form of European timekeepers and the brilliantly conceived technology that they contain“.

Hooded Wall Clock by Ahasuerus I Fromanteel, c.1660-65. Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hooded Wall Clock by Ahasuerus I Fromanteel, c.1660-65. Copyright the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Included in the exhibition are works by some of the English greats of clockmaking, including Fromanteel, Tompion and Knibb. There are also masterpieces of the clockmaker’s art that were prized possessions of emperors, princes and wealthy collectors.

Celestial Globe with Clockwork by Gerhard Emmoser, c.1579. Made for Holy Empoeror Rudolf II and later owned by JP Morgan. Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Celestial Globe with clockwork by Gerhard Emmoser, c.1579. Made for the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II and later owned by JP Morgan. Copyright the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The museum’s aim is to examine “the dialogue between inside and out, adornment and ingenuity,” to reveal “the complex evolution of European clockmaking and the central place of timekeepers in the history of decorative arts“. This exhibition certainly succeeds in shedding light on the relationship between horology and the decorative arts, as clocks became more than a timekeeper and were viewed as both works of art and objects of decorative design.

So, if you love clocks, head to Heathrow and catch the next plane to New York before time runs out – the exhibition ends March 27, 2016.

**For more information click on this link to the Metropolitan Museum exhibition page.

**A free lecture “Making Time: clocks and watches” takes place on Sunday, February 28, 2016 in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium, 2:30-3:30pm at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.