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One of the largest Baroque palaces in Germany

Ludwigsburg Residential Palace

Table clock with Achilles at the urn of Patroclus, Paris, circa 1810, in the new central building. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Ludwigsburg Palace Administration
Witnesses of time

French clocks

It was predominantly King Friedrich I von Württemberg who had valuable clocks made or purchased in Paris, which was a center of clock making, or had them made in the French style by his court carpenter. The clocks, made of wood, gilded bronze or marble, were often a fixed feature in a room's decor.

Table clock from 1765 on the writing cabinet in Carl Eugen's apartment at Ludwigsburg Residential Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Ralf Cohen

A table clock from Paris, made around 1765, sits on the French writing cabinet.

The best from Paris

The French timepieces in Ludwigsburg Residential Palace are representative pieces from Parisian case and clock factories, which bloomed between the reign of King Louis XIV of France and 1850. Beginning with Duke Carl Eugen's reign, the Württemberg court invested in Parisian quality. Most of the clocks at Ludwigsburg, however, are from around 1800. They were purchased during Friedrich I's reign, who had been elevated to King of Württemberg in 1806, with the help of Emperor Napoleon.

Table clock from Paris, circa 1850. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Ralf and Angelika Cohen

Representative table clock from Paris, made circa 1850.

Clock manufacturers

Clock manufacturing in Paris emerged under Louis XIV. It produced high-quality items for king and court. A clockmaker, often a workshop with several employees, manufactured the mechanism. Then cabinet makers or bronze workers would create the clock case, sometimes with the help of bronze founders, gilders and chasers. The Parisian factory system of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries was unique and was not replicated in any other country. Even Vienna, as the center of a grand empire, did not possess such capabilities.

Assembly room at Ludwigsburg Residential Palace. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Dieter Jäger

To the right: synchronized clocks and candlesticks on a mantle.

On center stage

In 18th-century France, it became fashionable to place clocks on a mantle, flanked on either side by a candelabra. Mirrors were hung over the mantelpiece that would then reflect the candle light. The clock cases themselves became increasingly ornate, with sculptural decorations and grouped figurines. Clocks did more than just display the time; they constituted decorative elements within a room. The figures also often tell a story.

Table clock, circa 1780, at Ludwigsburg Residential Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Ralf and Angelika Cohen

Two Atlases, figures from Greek mythology, support the clock face.

Slaves to fashion

On most clocks made between 1750 and 1850, the case plays a very important role, tailored to the individual room. In the empire, between 1800 and 1814, furniture and clock design was modeled after Roman Antiquity. This was due to Napoleon's rule, who as French Emperor, wanted to reference the Roman Empire. Greek and Roman motifs were popular decor elements, found, for example, on the face and rectangular base. The figures referenced ancient mythology.

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