International Conference Celebrating the Royal Clock Salt

One of the Goldsmiths’ Company’s greatest treasures, the Royal Clock Salt has been on loan to the British Museum since February 2018 and is on display in the Waddesdon Bequest Gallery.

The aim of this international conference is to shed light on the fascinating history of this unique object, its attribution and the extraordinary modifications it has undergone. It follows scientific study conducted by the British Museum.

The Clock Salt was probably a diplomatic gift from Francis 1 of France to Henry V111 of England, or between two of their courtiers. It was made in Paris around 1530-35 and is attributed to the royal goldsmith, Pierre Mangot. As a display piece, it functioned both as a table clock and a salt cellar. Mangot supplied luxury goods for the French court which incorporated precious and exotic materials, such as the Sibyls Casket in the Waddesdon Bequest.

A design in the British Museum Collection by Hans Holbein the Younger shows a clock salt which was to be presented by Sir Anthony Denny to Henry V111 in 1545. Of the eleven clock salts listed in Henry’s collection after his death, only this one survives. It reappears in inventories until it was sold from the Royal Collection after the Civil War in 1649. It is one of only four known surviving pieces from the several thousand items of goldsmiths’ work that once belonged to Henry V111 another is the fourteenth-century French Royal Gold Cup in the British Museum.

This conference brings together specialist scholars to analyse and discuss the making and meaning of the Clock Salt in its historical context for the first time. A British Museum research publication comprising the printed versions of the talks and edited by Dr T. Schroder and Dr D. Thornton will be published after the conference.

Speakers and topics include:

  • Pierre Mangot and Goldsmiths at the Court of King Francis 1 of France – Michèle Bimbenet-Privat, Louvre Museum, Paris
  • Diplomatic gifts between Francis 1 of France and Henry V111 of England – Timothy Schroder, independent scholar, former Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company
  • Treasures associated with King Francis 1 in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, including the Cellini Salt Cellar and the Gemma Augustea – Paulus Rainer, Kunstkammer, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
  • Hans Holbein the Younger and his designs for goldsmiths’ work in relation to the Clock Salt – Olenka Horbatsch, Department of Prints and Drawings, British Museum
  • Scientific study of the Clock Salt and its making; a new look at the clock mechanism – Andrew Meek, British Museum (with contributions from other research scientists in the British Museum and Horologist, Oliver Cooke)
  • The status and significance of the Sibyls Casket by Pierre Mangot in the Waddesdon Bequest in the British Museum – Dora Thornton, Curator, the Goldsmiths’ Company
  • The Francis Clock Salt and its history after the reign of Charles 1 – Rosemary Ransome-Wallis, Former Curator, Goldsmiths’ Company
  • Rothschild family collecting and their role in the taste for continental Renaissance silver in the nineteenth century – Julia Siemon, Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York.

Following the formal proceedings attendees are invited to a reception at the Waddesdon Bequest Gallery to view the Clock Salt.

22 November 2018 at Goldsmiths’ Hall
Registration from 9:30AM / Conference closes at 4:30PM
£35 (plus booking fee)
www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/conference-the-royal-clock-salt-tickets-48650368562

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