An extremely fine Swedish Rococo polychrome painted cartel clock with bracket by Petter Ernst of fourteen day duration, signed on the painted dial Petter Ernst Stockholm. The dial with Roman and Arabic numerals, with a blued steel pointer for the alarm and a beautiful pair of foliate pierced gilt brass hands for the hours and minutes each with a crown-shaped pointer. The massive fine quality movement with verge escapement, alarm, striking on the hours on a single bell and on the quarters on two bells, with pull repeat striking the last hours and quarters on two bells. The carved wooden case of cartouche outline with C-scrolling rocaille borders and decorated overall with gilt and polychrome painted exotic birds and flowers within foliate borders on a Spanish-green ground, surmounted by a carved giltwood rocaille cartouche enclosing stylised fruits and foliage, the floor of the glazed pendulum aperture painted as black and white tiles, on foliate scrolled feet. The tapering bracket likewise decorated with exotic birds and flowers within a foliate border on a dark green ground, with a carved gadrooned and foliate frieze and a pierced scrolling acanthus leaf terminal
Stockholm, date circa 1760
Height of clock 76 cm, height of the bracket 33 cm, width of the bracket 42 cm, overall height 109 cm.
The maker of this clock Petter Ernst (1714-84) was one of Sweden’s leading clockmakers during the mid eighteenth century. He made a wide variety of the finest clocks from cartel, bracket long case clocks to elegant pocket watches. Ernst also made a number of turret clocks for public spaces while also making pedometers and inventing a number of different astronomical instruments. Born on 2nd April 1714, by the 1740s Ernst was working as a clock and watch maker at Växjö in southern Sweden. Such was his repute that he was commissioned to supply the clock for the town hall at Karlshamn (about 90 kms south of Växjö), which bearing the serial number 212 is dated 1746. By then Petter Ernst was employing two journeymen workers as well as having an apprentice while a few year latter he only had one journeyman and one apprentice. His wife also came from Växjö; she was Eva Enock (b. c. 1711 d. 1785), daughter of Enock Enocksson, a local merchant and judge in Växjö.
Petter Ernst was still working in Växjö in 1752, when on 11th April he submitted a new instrument for determining a ship’s speed or velocity to the Academy of Sciences in Stockholm. Although the Academy board found that the instrument had certain shortcomings they nevertheless recognised Ernst’s skill and ingenuity and duly encouraged him to take his researches further. In order to take full advantage of the Academy’s technical and scientific expertise, Ernst decided to move to Stockholm where in August 1753 he established his new watch and clock making concern. On 16th January 1754 and on the Academy’s suggestion he was appointed Director of the so-called Schnackska clock factory or Stockholm Manufabrique, which had been managed as a State run concern since 1742. It appears that the Academy helped fund his move from Växjö and offered him premiums for any of his astronomical clocks that the Academy approved. Ernst’s repute grew after moving to Stockholm; he continued to make astronomical instruments gaining continued approval from the Academy and also supplying the Stockholm Observatory with a number of precision pendulum clocks as well two others to the Astronomical Observatory in Uppsala in 1771 and 1773.
How much Ernst had a say in the aesthetics of his clocks and watches is difficult to say however it is noted that in November 1760 he was granted an exclusive privilege for ten years to produce clock cases in Spanish green, as demonstrated to the best effect on the present clock. Its decoration accords with other of Ernst’s clock cases at this period, featuring similar beautifully painted exotic birds and flowers within a foliate or floral border. Of particular interest are the clock’s original gilt brass hands which have pointers shaped as crown, possibly to indicate that it was made for a royal residence or perhaps even for King Adolf Frederik of Sweden who reigned from 1751 up until 1771, when he was succeeded by his son Gustav III.