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French table clock

This table clock in fire-gilded bronze was produced in Paris by the clockmaker Potonié Léon. The clock is found in the Bird Room, in a spot it has occupied since the official opening of the Royal Palace in 1849.

The table clock is a “Parisian clock”, a collective designation for clocks that were mass produced in that great metropolis in the first half of the 1800s. Parisian clocks were renowned in their day for quality and elegance. The clock in the Bird Room is an unusual specimen; the only similar example known today is on display at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

In the form of a Gothic cathedral

The table clock is shaped like a Gothic cathedral. The façade is a portal, the clock face is presented as a rose window, and the clock tower is flanked by smaller towers. The clock also features elements of Neo-Gothic ornamentation and decoration.

The first half of the 1800s saw a revival of older styles, including the Gothic style of architecture, which had dominated Western Europe in the Middle Ages, from approximately 1150-1550. One of the main characteristics of Gothic architecture was the construction of lofty buildings that admitted the greatest possible amount of light. The wall constructions, flying buttresses and ribs of the vault were intentionally left visible in the building interiors. The Gothic revival also influenced the art of clock making and other handicrafts.

Furnishing the Bird Room

The table clock was purchased between 1846 and 1848 expressly for the Bird Room. In the proposal of 30 May 1846 “for furbishing of the King’s residence in Christiania” (as Oslo was then called), 50 rix-dollars were set aside for the purchase of one table clock and two candelabras for the console table in the Bird Room.

King Oscar I sent Master of the Household Fredric Otto Bæckström from the Palace in Stockholm to Christiania to draw up a proposal for furnishing the Palace in Oslo. A total of 60,000 rix-dollars was allocated for furniture and other objects. Bæckström himself travelled to Paris, where he found the candelabras and table clock for the Bird Room. These popular objects have had a permanent place in the room since the mid-1800s.




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