Last Update: 07-25-2022 @ 03:03
4.05 – Case Architecture
The general architecture of the clock case is the fifth point of view. It is an important one. Indeed, Geometric Shapes, Architectural, Furniture or Decorative Arts Shapes, Everyday Objects or Animal Shapes, or even Other Clock Cases, inspired clockmakers.
4.05.1 – Geometric Shapes
Clocks, over time, have adopted standard geometric shapes:
- Figure 8
- Unusual Shape
4.05.2 – Architectural or Furniture Design Shapes
Architectural elements from buildings or furniture inspired the case manufacturers and clockmakers. Also, the style of the period in which they lived and older styles influenced them.
4.05.2.1 – Architectural Building
Architectural buildings and religious art fascinated clockmakers and cabinetmakers, especially from the Middle Ages and the Greco-Roman periods. Asian or East European buildings and Japanese and Chinese decorative arts also made their way to their minds. Their clocks indeed reproduce scale models of these buildings with coordinate decorations. Here are some examples:
4.05.2.2 – Architectural elements
4.05.2.2.1 – The Arch or Ark
The ark (or arch) in architecture occupies a prominent place in appearance, style, and structural utility. The first syllable of the word architecture is arch. The arch is the basic structure of the vault. It is the semi-circular structure of an opening. It supports the load of what is above it. The arch dates back to the dawn of time. The Etruscans invented it, but Persians and Greeks took control of its development. Then, the Romans were the first builders to appreciate the arch’s qualities. They developed their full potential to build vaults and domes in all kinds of construction, bridges, aqueducts, portals, monumental buildings, etc. There are many examples of arches. Think of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, built in the 19th century. See Wikipedia for more details.
Cabinet makers of the 18th-century clocks developed clock cases having the shape of an arch opening. Here are some examples:
- Arch, Lancet
- Beehive or Gothic
- Arch, Two-sided or Doric
- Arch, Rosettes & Columns
- Arch, Four-Sided
4.05.2.2.2 – The Columns
Every era since the 12th century had its column style. As a smooth, twisted, fluted, or gilded cylinder, the column served as the support for a higher structure. A column rests on a base or pedestal higher than the simple base. A marquee tops the column. Embedded in the structure, columns become backed columns or half-columns. The columns are ubiquitous in some antique American shelf clocks, especially black mantle clocks. Therefore, many of their cases have Classical Greek (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian), Roman (Tuscan and Composite), Gothic, Baroque, or Renaissance columns. Look at the next slides and popups to see examples.
Here are some examples of clocks with columns:
4.05.2.2.3 – The pediment
The pediment is the crowning of a building or furniture. It may take different forms: circular, paneled, broken, triangular, interspersed, etc. In the image below, look at some examples applied to clock cases :
4.05.2.2.4 – The Strut
Tanks to the strut, clockmakers could make thin clock cases held at an angle. Indeed, the square is attached to the top of the back of a clock case, usually by hinges, and the bottom part opens at an angle to hold the clock.
4.05.3 – Furniture Shapes
Clock case specialists, who were often cabinetmakers, were also inspired by the style of furniture in vogue in their day. Here are a few examples:
They also borrowed from the furniture style:
Also, some clocks have been placed on a piece of furniture that accompanies and highlights it. They became an integral part of the furniture. We called them pedestal clocks. Other clocks have been integrated into a piece of furniture, such as a coffee table or a buffet. Therefore, they added to it another function, as in the examples that follow:
4.05.4 – Stylistics Elements from the Decorative Arts
The manufacturers of cases have introduced on or next to the clock elements from the decorative arts, such as statues, candlesticks, and cassolettes, the latter from Egyptian art. They appealed to well-known founders and sculptors who produced bronze figures to lay on clocks, particularly in France. Here are some examples
- Figure or Statue
- Signed sculpture
- Clock with Chandeliers
- Clock with Cassolettes
- Egyptian Patterns
4.05.5 – Shapes Inspired by Objects
Everyday objects inspired the clock manufacturers. Their cases imitated musical instruments such as banjo and lyre, bird cages, honeycombs, balloons, drums, figurines, lighthouses, towers, even measuring tapes, etc. Here is a list of some of the objects that inspired the clock manufacturers:
- Bird Cage
- Napoleon's Hat
- Picture Frame
- Urn Clock
- Measuring Tape
- Table Radio
- Steam Engine
4.05.6 – Shapes Inspired by Animals
Furthermore, animals have been an inexhaustible source of inspiration for clockmakers. The lion often appeared as a decorative element, especially in black mantle clocks. The elephant, the dog, and the cat became clocks by integrating a movement and a dial into their body. The horse was an ornament, on or next to the clock case. Finally, as illustrated, some clock historians gave the name of an animal’s back for a certain type of clock.
4.05.7 – Inspired by the Clock Case Itself
Finally, the clock cases themselves served as an inspiration to the clockmakers. Thus, the top of long-case clocks became in England short wall clocks, cheaper to produce because requiring less material and less workforce.
Next: 4.06 – Case Materials