Boulle Clock 

Private Client


Andre Charles BoulleThis shelf clock was designed in the style of French furniture maker, Andre Charles Boulle (1642-1732). His work incorporated the use of wood, mosaics, inlaid paneling, marquetry, gilded filigree, ormolu mounts, and tortoiseshell veneering to produce highly ornate objects as exemplified by this clock. The exterior of which, and accompanying shelf are veneered with thin, translucent sheets of tortoiseshell adhered over a green painted paper substrate. Both elements are decorated by intricate gilt brass mounts nailed to the casework


Before Treatment: Tarnished OrmoluThe clock and shelf were found to be in an unstable and fragile condition. Significant areas of the tortoiseshell were loose and lifting from the wood and paper substrate. Numerous sections of tortoiseshell veneer had become detached and many of those pieces had been lost over time. The gilt brass mounts had been improperly treated in the past; repeated polishing of the fire gilding exposed the underlying brass and the worn surfaces had then darkened as the base metal tarnished. A yellowish and darkened varnish covered all exterior finishes, dulling and disfiguring the once highly reflective surfaces of the clock and shelf.


During Treatment: CleaningThe clock was partially disassembled to facilitate treatment. The loose areas of tortoiseshell were labeled and removed to consolidate and repair the lifting paint and paper which covered the softwood casework. The ormolu mounts were cleaned and selectively polished to visually blend the brass with the areas of remaining fire gilding. The metal was then lacquered to slow future corrosion or tarnishing of the brass. Missing sections of tortoiseshell, a product previously acquired from the Hawk Bill Sea Turtle, and now a protected species, was made from cast polyester resin pigmented with aniline dyes. The faux tortoiseshell was cut to fit the areas of loss and adhered using hide glue. The decorative gilt mounts were reattached to the casework using the original fasteners. The clock works, previously restored, were cleaned and oiled and the Shelf Clock was reassembled. 

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