An important Federal inlaid mahogany longcase clock the movement by Ephraim Willard, Roxbury,  with dial painted by John Ritto Penniman1790's
Lot 1042
An important Federal inlaid mahogany longcase clock
the movement by Ephraim Willard, Roxbury, with dial painted by John Ritto Penniman
1790's
Sold for US$ 72,500 inc. premium

Lot Details
An important Federal inlaid mahogany longcase clock the movement by Ephraim Willard, Roxbury,  with dial painted by John Ritto Penniman1790's An important Federal inlaid mahogany longcase clock the movement by Ephraim Willard, Roxbury,  with dial painted by John Ritto Penniman1790's An important Federal inlaid mahogany longcase clock the movement by Ephraim Willard, Roxbury,  with dial painted by John Ritto Penniman1790's An important Federal inlaid mahogany longcase clock the movement by Ephraim Willard, Roxbury,  with dial painted by John Ritto Penniman1790's An important Federal inlaid mahogany longcase clock the movement by Ephraim Willard, Roxbury,  with dial painted by John Ritto Penniman1790's
Property of various owners
An important Federal inlaid mahogany longcase clock
the movement by Ephraim Willard, Roxbury, with dial painted by John Ritto Penniman
1790's

The hood with pierced fret below three ball and spire finials and with finely carved arched frieze supported by fluted columns above the trunk with fan inlaid rectangular trunk door flanked by fluted quarter columns, the similarly inlaid plinth on moulded skirt, painted white dial with moon phase in the arch above a roman and arabic chapter ring enclosing subsidiary seconds and date aperture, two train movement with anchor escapement, rack striking the hour on bell with a hammer employing Willard's characteristic coiled spring.
height 106 1/4in (269cm)

Footnotes

  • Literature:
    John Robey, The Longcase Clock Reference Book, 2nd ed. (Mayfield Books, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, 2013).
    Cited as an example of American painted dials, illustrated figs. 10.183-184.
    Cited as an example of "the very best Boston cases..." pp 848 – 850, figs. 11.411-412
    Peter Recourt, "Ephraim Willard, A new perspective," NAWCC Bulletin of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc., vol. 47, no. 354 (February 2005), pp. 42-49.

    The clock retains what appear to be its original pendulum with blue painted rod, a similarly tinted pair of weights, winding crank and case keys. A technical analysis of the movement by Peter Recourt, placing it within the context of known Willard clocks, accompanies the lot.

    John Ritto Penniman is considered one of the finest of American decorative painters. He was born around 1782 in Milford, Massachusetts, one of several children born to Dr. Elias and Anna Jenks Penniman. He is believed to have studied art under the tutelage of an Englishman while he worked for clockmakers Simon and Aaron Willard.

    Penniman also painted for John Doggett, a cabinetmaker and framer who worked closely with two Boston female academies to frame students' completed embroideries. After his apprenticeship ended in 1803, Penniman started his own business, first in Roxbury, then in Boston. Penniman worked for Thomas Seymour from 1808 to 1810, and he is best known for the decorative painting on a demilune commode commissioned of Seymour by the Derby family of Salem, which now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. While he was in business between 1803 and 1827, Penniman employed apprentices who became successful artists in their own right, including Thomas Badger, Alvan Fisher and Charles Codman.

    In a 1981 checklist of the works known or attributed to Penniman, five other clock faces known to have been painted by him are listed. These comprise:
    - one painted in 1793 for an unidentified Willard clockmaker, inscribed J.R. Penniman No. 11, 1793, whereabouts currently unknown but recorded by the Concord Antiquarian Society;
    - one in a clock with works by Aaron Willard, inscribed John R. Penniman No. 1, formerly in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. James L. Britton and sold Christie's New York, 16 January 1999, lot 623 and also illustrated The Magazine Antiques (November, 1975) p. 998-1000;
    - one in a clock with works by William Cummens, signed on the back John Penniman/No 8, whereabouts currently unknown but illustrated in Vernon C. Stoneman, John and Thomas Seymour, Cabinetmakers in Boston 1794-1816, (Boston, 1959), p. 351;
    - one in a cherrywood tall-case clock made in New England, signed J. Penniman No. 14 1794, in the collection of the Museum of the Concord Antiquarian Society and illustrated in Carol Damon Andrews, "John Ritto Penniman (1782-1841), an ingenious New England artist," Worcester Art Museum exhibition catalogue, 1982, fig. 1; and
    - a clock presented to the Honorable Benjamin Goodhue, with works by Simon Willard, the dial signed John R. Penniman No 10, advertised by Taylor B. Williams in The Magazine Antiques (January, 1972), p. 143, whereabouts currently unknown.

    For a more extensive discussion of Penniman and his work, see John Ritto Penniman (1782-1841): an ingenious New England Artist, Worcester Art Museum, 1982.
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