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Made by: Unknown

On view in: Dining Room

About this object

The bust-size figure of the "Negress" (historical term) is elegantly dressed with a feathered turban and bejeweled with earrings that would have activated an ingenious clock mechanism. In pulling the right earring, the hour would have appeared in the right eye. A pull to the left earring would have indicated the minutes in the left eye. A model of this clock made by the clockmaker Furet was delivered to Queen Marie Antoinette at Versailles. Before its delivery, the clock was exhibited in Furet’s window shop where flocks of passersby stopped to contemplate it in awe.

The upper portion consists of a bust of a negress on a pedestal foot. The face, the neck, bare left shoulder and breast are lacquered black. She wears a turban with an aigrette rising from a bow on her forehead, and a low-cut robe edged with fur and fringe. A garland of flowers hangs down over the left shoulder, and a bow and arrows in a quiver hang at the back. The bust sits on a large, stepped box-like base in white and black marble on which perch two winged putti, each holding a fragment of a garland. On the front plaque four putti in low relief carry dead game. On either side are white marble plaques with applied urns, scrolls and flowers in gilt bronze. Both short ends bear openwork plaques with the caduceus and cap of Mercury within two crossed laurel sprays. Below the plaque is a band of acanthus leaves. The clock rests on six circular feet.

Object name:
Made from:
Bronze -- gilt bronze -- marble
Made in:
Paris, France
Date made:
ca. 1785
74.9 × 39.4 cm (29 1/2 × 15 1/2 in.)

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
Credit line:
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973
Featured in publication:
"A Taste for Splendor: Russian Imperial and European Treasures from the Hillwood Museum","Spectacular: Gems and Jewelry from the Merriweather Post Collection"