The stylistic development of the Dutch longcase clock, part 2

Dutch Amsterdam Longcase Musical Striking Burr Walnut 1750

This is the second part of the article that I wrote based on a lecture that I have held in September 2015 and March 2016.

J 1 Bramer Vehmeyer 1715 early arch wijzerplaat klein

The arched dial 1710 – 1715

 A significant development occurs around 1702 – 1703 when the arched dial is introduced. The first are seen on some table or bracket clocks. The arched dial basically consists of a square dial on which a semi circular element is placed, the so-called arch. The arch enlarges the surface of the dial and can be used for a signature plaque, subsidiary dial or moonphase. Around 1710 – 1715 the arched dial becomes the standard for longcase clocks.

The first arched are narrow in comparison to the width of the square part of the dial. The design isn’t integrated yet with the rest of the dial. Visually the arch is just ‘stuck’ onto the square part. This is evendent when we look at the engraved border which still runs around the square part of the dial. In this transitional period from square dial to arched dial it is not uncommon that a seperate arch has been added to a existing square dial. I have seen examples where the arch was riveted or fixed with metal strips to the square dial.

In England there is a parallel development considering the arched dials. In Holland we still see cherub spandrels (on the picture here in combination with crowns), season spandrels and a little later mask spandrels which are usually English import.

During this period the velvet covered dial disappears.

The picture here shows a dial of Bramer. It is a clear example of an early (narrow) arched dial. Clearly we can see that the arch hasn’t been integrated into the design. The engraved border follows the square part and the arch is visually ‘stuck’ onto the dial.

The Bramer clock is very rare because it is of year duration.

J 1 Bramer Vehmeyer early arch 1715cutklein

The different arched dial has consequences for the shape of the case. The base remains the same as before but an arch is added to the top part of the door. The cornice in the hood follows the arch of the dial and the dome tends to become higher.


J 2 Clarke & Dunster 1715-20 en klok circa 1700

The two clocks shown here give a clear picture of the changes that occur. The clock on the left side has the pre-arch square hood and rectangular door. The clock to the right has an arched cornice and arched door.

Please be aware that both clocks do not have their original dome tops and to my opinion these clocks shouldn’t have the angels and atlas figures on top.


J A Edward Brookes 1720cut

The clock shown here was made by Edward Brookes. Again we see the characteristics of the clocks with an early arch. A narrow arch to the dial, an arched cornice and arched door. The twisted columns are a reminiscent feature of the period before. It shows that the changes occurs gradually and were combined sometimes with features that one might exppect in an earlier period. Too bad that this well built clock lacks it’s ball finials.

J Basomoine Vehmeyer 1715-1720cutklein

The clock shown here was made around 1720. It is a good example of a clock of this period with bell top and ball finals.


J Andries vermeulen 1720 barometercutklein

Again this clock made by Andries Vermeulen shows the characteristics of this period. A striking feature is the barometer in the door. This is uncommon and to my opinion is seen mostly on clocks made between 1720 and 1740.

M Mattheus de Kooning London wangen 1730.jpgcutklein

The base with volutes, circa 1725

 For the first time in around 60years a change occurs to the base of the longcase clocks around 1725. The base remains flat at the front but at the sides there appear volutes or semi circular parts. The feet remain to be ball or bun feet. We also see that from this period on the clocks start to be veneered with burr walnut in stead of plain walnut which was the most used veneer before. Around this time we start to see cast ornaments for the lenticle. Finally, musical mechanisms become a more common luxuary option for the longcase clocks. There are clock with musical mechanisms before but these are very rare and often have small (interchangeable) cylinders.

The clock shown here by Mattheus de Kooning is a fine example of the new development. As discussed before we see the volutes to the sides of the base, cast brass lenticle ornament and a musical mechanism. Note that the corniche and top of the door are still plain break arch shaped. The fine bell top has three ornamental ball finials.

M Mattheus de Kooning London wangen 1730.wijzerplaatklein

Although this clock is signed Mattheus de Kooning London it is a nice example of the Dutch tradition. The sspandrels with faces or masks in a foliate surround are called ‘mask-spandrels’. These were used in Holland but probably mostly imported from England. The large hand and sector in the unusual sun burst arch are for the melody selection. Typical for this period is the omission of the rings around the winding holes.

M Vermeulen 1730 wangen.jpgcutklein

This clock by Andries Vermeulen was probably made around 1730. Again we see the volutes to the sides of the base and this clock has a barometer in the door. A striking feature is the appearance of a carved ornament in the break arch cornice.

M Vermeulen 1730 wangen.jpgwijzerplaatklein

The dial of the Vermeulen clock also lacks the rings around the winding holes and has fine mask spandrels. This clock also has a sector in the arch for the tune selection of the musical mechanism, this time around the moonphase.

M Pieter Kock Haarlem wangen 1730.jpgcutklein

The last clock of this type that I am showing was made by Pieter Kock of Haarlem. Too bad the picture is not very clear but I still wanted to show it. The most striking new feature are the triangular shaped apertures for the calendar work. These appear from around 1725- 1730. Again we see the volutes to the sides and cast lenticle ornament. I am not sure if the stauettes are original for this clock and are replacements for earlier ornamental ball finials.

In the development of the cases of the Dutch longcase clocks, the volutes at the sides of the base ceased to be made after circa 1740.

O overgang 1725-1735 schoonbeek-Vermeulen.jpgcutklein

I will now discuss a second development that runs parallel with the volutes to the side but commences about 5 years later. Around 1730 clocks are starting to be built with canted corners to the base. Both clocks with volutes to the sides of the base and clocks with canted corners to the base were built in the same period.

The adjacent picture shows clearly this next step in the development. The clock at the right dates about 1720 – 1725. The clock to the left was probably built 1730 – 1735. Next to the canted corners to the base we also see that the cornice of the hood is no longer just arched but of ogee shape. Both clocks are surmounted by statuettes. To my opinion the clock to the right should have ball finials. The clock on the left just might originally have been executed with statuettes.

P dadelbeek 1739 001klein

Although this clock by Willem Dadelbeek of Utrecht isn’t the finest example with it’s later marquetry and unoriginal high feet. I still wanted to show it because it is dated 1739.

Again, like the clock above there is more movement in the cornice. This time it is a trefoil, that is also visible at the top of the door. This movement in the cornice and door will become more stronger later on.

P Tsijmen Gouda 1740.jpgcutklein

The clock shown here was made by Tijmen of Gouda and was built around 1735 – 1740. This clock again has canted corners but now also the trunk is canted. The movement in the cornice and top of the door has become stronger and has more tension. This is because the trefoil has vertical sections giving the whole more movement. A further striking feature are the carved ornaments in the cornice and top of the door. Finally we see that the rectangular base of the door now is shaped.

R amsterdammer knieën 1740-45klein

‘Knees’, circa 1740

The development of the volutes to the sides of a further flat base cease to exist around 1740. But the base with canted corners is developed further with volutes on these corners. In the trade these are often called ‘knees’. We also see that the ball-and-claw feet are being introduced in this period. Although the cornice on this clock is just arched, we do see that the top and bottom of the door are shaped. Again both cornice and door have a carved ornament and the sides of the trunk are canted as well.

R Koster 1750 001klein

The adjacent clock was made by R. Koster of Amsterdam around 1745. Again we see the ‘knees’ on the corners of the base and the corners of the trunk are canted as well. Also the door has a carved ornament and a shaped top and base. The cornice is ogee shaped and has a carved ornament. The feet appear to be a little small but I think these are replacements.

R Koster 1750 wijzerplaat 001klein

Here we see the dial of the Koster clock. The wide rim of the arch and engraved border surrounding the dial are characteristics of an earlier period. Here we also see a good example of the triangular shaped apertures of the calendar. The spandrels are called ‘rococo spandrels’. But the most striking feature here is the outer ring callibrated for the minutes. Up until now it used to be just round but from this period on the minute ring is often shaped. Here we see shell shaped engravings but usually we see the 5-minute arches. The winding holes have rings around them but they are much thinner than the earlier period.

S 1750 Bramer & Zoon astronomisch wijzerplaatklein

The dial shown here is very rare because it has a planisfere in the arch. It is a flat representation showing the movement of the stars. The engraved silvered surround of the chapter ring is very unusual. But here we see very clearly the 5-minute arches that were mentioned above. These 5-minute arches are hardly ever seen on English clocks, only when made for the Dutch market.


S 1750 Bramer & Zoon astronomischklein

Here we see the whole clock. Again there are the characteristics typical for the period; ogee cornice with carved ornament, door with carved ornament and shaped top and bottom, canted corners to the base with knees, the whole on ball-and-claw feet.

S amsterdammer bombé volkalender 1760cutklein

The bombé base, 1745 – 1750.

Shortly after the introduction of the ‘knees’ to the base, the bombé base appears. This was probably around 1745 and 1750. Both the bombé base and base with ‘knees’ were made during the same period up until the end of the development of the Dutch longcase clocks. The bombé base and 5-minute arches seem to appear around the same time. The stylistic characteristics of the hood and door are similar to the clock above.

S Melitz 1750 schepenmechaniek.jpgcutklein

The clock shown here with bombé base was made by Melitz of Amsterdam and has a ships automaton in the arch. The ships and waves mode to and fro’ due to a connection to the pendulum. The ships automaton becomes from about 1750, just as a musical mechanism before, a luxury option for the longcase clocks. Striking are the beautifully shaped cornice and large rococo shaped lenticle ornament.

T schepen onderin 1760.jpgcutklein

1760, the chapter ring in the arch.

It must have been a clever person who came up with the idea of placing the chapter ring in the arch and the automaton below around 1760. The chapter ring fits very well and is still very easily legible. It also provides more space for the automaton which is also better visible.

Later on, this space will also be used for just a painted scene without an automaton. Note that the moonphase now is placed within the chapter ring or sometimes is integrated into the scene of the ship’s automaton. The area around the automaton doesn’t have applied brass spandrels but is painted. Later we will see that some clocks will have painted spandrels.

T Van Vlijmen 1760 mechaniek.jpgcutklein

This clock was made circa 1760 by Van Vlijmen around 1760. With it’s fine bombé base on ball-and-claw feet, burr walnut veneer, ships automaton below the chapter ring and the beautiful hood surmounted by stauettes, it is a clock that is seen as the ideal of the ‘Dutch longcase clock’.

T Zeeman cover 1760.jpgcoverklein

This fine clock has all the the characteristics that I mentioned above. It is depicted on the cover on the book by Jaap Zeeman on Dutch longcase clocks. De Nederlandse staande Klok.

U Jan Henkels 1770 schepencutklein

U Jan Henkels 1770 wijzerplaatcutklein

The fine clock depicted here was made by Jan Henkels around 1770. A striking new feature is the door that doesn’t have straight sides anymore but slightly bent.  Loking at the dial we see a nice example of a more elaborate automaton. There are two ships, a horseman, a peasant with a stick driving cattle and a fisherman which all are connected to the pendulum. The two windmills start turning when the clock strikes. Also note the calendar apertures which are not engraved but painted just like the surrounding of the automaton.

Although the case does have all the Louis XV characteristics, we do see that the carved ornament has distinct Louis XVI elements. These Louis XVI influences in the ornamentation of the clocks are one of the clues that make us able to date a clock.

U Otto van Meurs 1763 gedateerd.jpgcutklein

U Otto van Meurs 1763 gedateerd.jpgwijzerplaatklein

I wanted to show you this clock for two reasons. First because the painting surrounding the chapter ring is signed and dated 1663 which is alo a benchmark in the development of these clocks. Secondly, this clock by Otto van Meurs is a very fine example of a clock of this period. Although the door is not waisted like the clock above, the playful carved border does give the whole much more movement. Please note that not all clocks after this period have waisted doors but these doors do not appear before 1760 to my opinion.

The dial finely painted classical scene in the arch depicting Pan and mythological figures. This is clearly Louis XVI influence. Just as the carved ornament in the cornice that has Louis XVI characteristics. This is also a good example of a dial with painted spandrels and painted fan-shaped calendar indications instead of the engraved indications and brass spandrels. These were still used during this period but the painted spandrels and indications are indication of a later date.

U Van Eeden gedateerd 1770.jpgcutklein

U Van Eeden gedateerd 1770.jpgwijzerplaatklein

This beautiful and grand clock by van Eeden is also signed and dated 1770. The painted scene of the dial is practically identical. The calendar has a different lay out and the moonphase here is shaped as a penny moon. This is a annular aperture instead of a semi circular aperture.

The case of this clock is also very elaborately decorated with the beautiful bombé base, fine carving to the door and hood.

V Louis XVI staander Dirk Wiegels schommelmechaniek.jpgcutklein

True Louis XVI

Parallel with the clocks above there were clocks made in the true Louis XVI style. The quality of these clocks is often very good and these clocks belong to the top of the Dutch furniture production.

The adjacent clock by Dirk Wiegels is a fine example of this development. The shape and silhouet of the case is totally different because the rounded forms have been replaced by more rectangular forms. The base is rectangular and the ‘knees’ are gone, replaced by protruding tapered feet. The door is also rectangular and here an oval lenticle ornament. The rosettes on the corners are a further Louis XVI element. The ogee shaped cornice is replaced by a triangular pediment with geometrical fretwork. Finally the stauettes have been replaced by urn-shaped finials. The veneer is not burr walnut anymore but mahogany again typical for the louis XVI period.

V S Uswald Louis XVI speelwerk.jpgcutklein

This clock by Uswald (circa 1770) is the second exmaple and shows the same characteristics as the clock by Dirk Wiegels. The case is veneered with finely figured mahogany. The clock is surmounted by stauettes which to my opinion are not fitting with the true Louis XVI style and are probably replacements for urn finials.

The chapter ring is placed in the arch and the centre has apertures for the calendar consisting of date, day of the week, month and moonphase. Just like the clocks by Van Meurs and Van Eeden, the calendar signs are painted and are the hands very finely pierced. Below the chapter ring a scene is painted with a family listening to a group of musicians of which two arms move with the musical mechanism when playing. Below to the right is a lever for the tune selection.

V S Uswald Louis XVI wijzerplaat.jpgcutklein

V Louis XVI staander met mechaniek Poussin 1790.jpgcutklein

The third and last example of the ‘true louis XVI’ clocks there is this clock by Nicolaas Poussin made circa 1780 – 1790. Again a fine clock of good quality. The case even has marquetry of garlands and a wreath both Louis XVI characteristics. Below the dial there is an automaton of a windmill and ship.

V Ter Vooren Louis XVI speelwerkklein

During the last quarter of the 18th Century there were also clocks made that show a combiantion of both Louis XV and XVI styles just like this clock by Ter Vooren. The case has a bombé base on ball-and-claw feet which are obvious Louis XV style elements. But the use of mahogany veneer, the rectangular door with rosettes and the carved ornament all are characteristic for the Louis XVI style. The lenticle ornament is Louis XV though.

The hood with it’s ogee shaped cornice, foliate frets and statuettes again is full of Louis XV details. But the carved ornament has a lot of Louis XVI elements.

The chapter ring is placed in the arch and below this we see a painted scene of a classical lady looking out over water. This clock with it’s mixed styles also shows a lack of invention and the repetition of forms without a true concept. It heralds the demise of the Dutch longcase clock at the end of the 18th Century.

W circa 1800 Friese Louis XVI klokklein

We have seen that the development of the Dutch longcase clocks stops somewhere during the last quarter of the 18th Century. For a long time after this there will be longcase clocks made. But the quality is often much less and the style elements are mixed. Especially in the northern province of Friesland a production remains for a long time of which we here see an example.