Fromanteel & Clarke

With branches in London, Amsterdam and Newcastle, the Fromanteel family was the first international company for the production of timepieces. Ahasuerus Fromanteel the Younger was born in London in 1640 and apprentices under a clockmaker. He then moved to The Hague between 1677 and 1681 where he became a burgher in 1683. He is thought to have alternatively established a business in Amsterdam in 1681 with his brother John Fromanteel (1638-1692) in the Vijendam (now part of the Dam Square near the Rokin). He is next recorded working in Amsterdam in 1693, and the following year his daughter Anne marries a fellow English expat clockmaker, Chiristopher Clarke (1668-1734). Fromanteel and Clarke partnered together in Amsterdam until Ahasuerus’ death in 1703. Clarke continued the business in a new partnership with Fromanteel‘s younger brother Abraham, where they also used the "Fromanteel and Clarke" signature, without including their location. Examples of watches and clocks by Fromanteel can be found in the Met Museum (New York), the British Museum, and the Science Museum (London).

The richly engraved gold case is highly reminiscent of designs typically found on 17th century French metal cased ‘Oignon’ watches, known as such for their large onion-like shape.  At this time Louis XIV’s Sumptuary Laws, were such that a wealthy patron desiring a gold cased Oignon would not be able to purchase one within the country as gold finery such as watches would have only been acceptable accessories for the noble elite. As such, to procure a gold watch such as this would have meant going abroad for their luxury purchase.

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