Made to Mesmerize: The Farcot Conical Mystery Clock
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ARTFIX DAILY, June 14, 2016--
The great International Exhibitions of the 19th and early 20th centuries were the means by which the world’s latest artistic, industrial and technological innovations could take center stage. Attracting millions of visitors over the duration, it was these world’s fairs that allowed artisans from every discipline to showcase their absolute best to a global audience that included royalty and the social elite. For a craftsman, their exhibit was a watershed moment with the power to make or break their career.
The 1862 International Exhibition had been a long time coming. The exhibition marked the first time in over a decade England would host the event, with tensions between the major European nations, particularly England and France, making it impossible to organize in prior years. Perhaps one of the most highly anticipated of the great International Exhibitions, the Exhibition of 1862 brought together over 28,000 exhibitors from 36 countries, showcasing the most cutting-edge masterpieces to over 6 million visitors. France in particular wanted to prove its worth by sending its most illustrious craftsmen and masterpieces to this global event.
The stage had been set for Paris’ Eugène Farcot to introduce his conical pendulum clock to the world. Created especially for this exhibition and one of only seven now known to exist, this awe-inspiring Farcot Conical Mystery Clock was acquired from a private collector whose family originally purchased the masterpiece at the Exhibition of 1862. The Greek muse Urania that holds the pendulum was created by legendary French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, and aids in the “mystery” as to how this incredible work of art operates. The workings are actually held within the exquisite rouge girotte marble pedestal, with the pendulum being powered by a pin set within an inconspicuous mechanism that, at first glance, appears to be powered by the pendulum. This constant motion, versus the “start and stop” of a traditional swinging pendulum, makes the conical clock one of the most accurate timekeepers of its day. Standing over nine feet tall, this clock is simply amazing.
Created by two of France’s most gifted artisans, the Farcot Conical Mystery Clock is the perfect marriage of art and technology. Farcot created only a handful of clocks using the conical movement, but none of them compared to his exhibition creations. He continued to showcase the conical at the the most prestigious exhibitions, including Paris in 1867, Philadelphia in 1876 and Paris for the last time in 1878. To be featured in successive exhibitions is a testament to the pronounced significance of the maker and his astounding creation.