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Rare timepiece depicted in enigmatic painting solves mystery of Burrell wall clock

Wall Clock, Burrell Collection.

Exhibition preview

A MAJOR exhibition at Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, organised in partnership with the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, USA, is on display until September 23, 2018.

The exhibition, The Paston Treasure: Riches and Rarities of the Known World reunites, for the first time in three centuries, rare 17th century works of art and objects originally featured in a large mysterious painting The Paston Treasure.

Painted by an unknown Dutch school artist, circa 1663, the painting’s unique and cryptic subject continues to mesmerize and puzzle art scholars and historians.

Featuring an array of exotic treasures from around the world, the painting chronicles a fraction of what was once one of the greatest private art collections of 17th century England, amassed by Norfolk’s Paston family, famed for their medieval letters.

One piece, a pendulum wall clock, is so accurately depicted in the painting, that Jonathan Betts, leading horological consultant and conservator and Curator Emeritus at the Royal Observatory National Maritime Museum Greenwich, has been able to draw remarkably accurate conclusions as to its origins.

As a result, a pendulum wall clock, on loan to the exhibition from the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, has now been attributed to the eminent and clockmaker Henry Jones of London as a result of Jonathan Betts’ research. Henry Jones was one of a small group of prized Horologists making clocks in the reign of Charles II and was Master of the Clockmakers Company in 1691.

At the time, the pendulum revolutionised accuracy and made clocks into must-have objects among royalty and the aristocracy, most of whom turned to great London makers such as Henry Jones to build them the finest possible timekeepers.

The wall clock from the Burrell Collection joins more than 130 objects on loan from national and international museums and private collections.

Image: Pendulum wall clock, Burrell Collection. © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection.