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September 21, 2020

Exhibition of French vintage clocks from Romanian museum collections

Francois Saint-Paul, French Ambassador to Romania and Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, director general of National History Museum of Romania, will attend the event.

Temporary exhibition “Genio Gallico, vintage French clocks from Romanian museum collections” will open today at 1 pm at the National History Museum of Romania in Bucharest, reports a press release. The event is under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with Peles National Museum, Cotroceni National Museum, the National Art Museum of Romania, The Clock Museum “Nicolae Simache” in Ploiesti and the Museum of Bucharest City.
The event will enjoy the presence of French Ambassador to Romania Francois Saint-Paul and general director of the National History Museum of Romania Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu.
The clock industry in France started relatively early developing technically and in terms of refinement. Adopting gradual physics and mathematics discoveries with applications in clock-working to obtain measurement instruments able to keep time with a greater accuracy, France remains the “home” of the artists for which refinement is above technical qualities. The introduction of enamel in decorating clock bodies (17th century) is a new opportunity for French maestros to prove their talent, artistic taste and imagination. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the rigid system of manufacturing organization led to a downward slope in the clock-making industry. A lot of Protestant clockmakers fled the country offering their talent to new states such as England and Switzerland. Nevertheless, France excels in decorating the clock frames, crafted in techniques made famous by jewellers. Professions connected to clock-making will develop, such as engraving, enamel technique, goldsmithing and silversmithing.
Along Paris, Besancon was “the heart and soul of French clock crafting.” It will become a major production centre at the end of the 18th century, when a reverse migration takes place as the Swiss clock crafters established here with their workshops. In 1872, Besancon used to control 99.63 per cent of the clock production of France, getting the name of the “capital of clocks.” The evolution of the city and the clock crafting companies continues to the seventh decade of the past century when the quartz watches were developed (1971) which, along with the oil crisis, plunged Besancon into an unprecedented economic crisis. Today, Besancon is no longer known as a “clock capital” but more like a “time capital.”
In the exhibition devoted to French clock-making, the public will be able to admire pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries made by major clock-makers from France, such as Abraham-Louis Breguet, Julien Le Roy, Charles Oudin, etc, belonging to the National History Museum of Romania and its partners, such as the Clock Museum “Nicolae Simache” within the County Museum of History and Archaeology Prahova, the National Peles Museum, the National Art Museum of Romania, the National Cotroceni Museum and the Museum of the City of Bucharest.
The exhibition is open at the National History Museum of Romania as of today until August 31, and it can be visited from Wednesday to Sunday between 10 am and 6 pm.

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