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Table clock

Master Johan Scheirer (Scherer, Scheur, Scheurer)
Vilnius, 1st half of the 17th century.
Bronze, gold, silver, pewter, iron, glass
Blacksmithing, engraving, carving, gilding
9.5 × 14.3 × 12.3 cm
Acquired on 27 June 2018 at the Galerie Neuse Kunsthandel GmbH (Germany)  
Little is known about Johan Scheirer (Scherer, Scheur, Scheurer), a clockmaker from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Stanisława Link-Lenczowska mentions him in her book. According to the author, Scheirer may have worked in Vilnius in the first half of the 17th century.
Only a few table clocks by this craftsman are known. This clock is unique due to its "Johan Scheirer Vilnae" inscription. This indicates that the clock was made in Vilnius. In 1655, Johan Scheirer, like another famous Vilnius clockmaker, Jacob Gierke (Gierck, Giercke, Gierkiewicz, Jerkiewicz), left for Königsberg, where he was patronized by the Prussian Duke Frederick William (1620-1688). It is not known whether the master returned to Vilnius. The clock in question is the only known work by this artist in Lithuania.
The hexagonal clock face depicts a landscape of trees, bushes, a house with an outbuilding and a castle with two towers. The Roman numerals for the hours run in a circle. A royal lily separates the distances between the hours. A detail in one of the clock's windows shows two hares running, pursued by a dog. The castle on a hill can be seen in the distance. The whole scene is probably a hunting scene. Other windows on the sides of the clock show the clock's details, which are decorated with floral ornaments. The hexagonal clock has carved feet representing lion's claws in three corners, with small volutes on the sides.
The movement strikes the hours using a pewter chime at the box's bottom. The force of the spring is counterbalanced by a device called a snail, or fusee, which is visible through one of the clock windows. The word 'fusee' is derived from the French word fusée, which in turn is derived from the Latin word fusata, meaning a full spindle of thread. A thin metal chain connects the coil to the spring drum. When the bottom cover is opened, the engraved signature of the maker, Johan Scheirer, and the place of manufacture, Vilnae, can be seen between the plates connecting the parts, which are richly ornamented with plant motifs. Other inscriptions are also visible: P4 and the capital letters LP.
The clock has a single gilded hour hand decorated with floral ornaments. Its decoration reflects the high level of fine craftsmanship in Vilnius in the 17th century.
Information prepared by Toma Zarankaitė-Margienė
Photographer Mindaugas Kaminskas
Inv. No VR-1084

The Lithuanian Council for Culture funded this acquisition.

Published:: 2024-05-02 13:30 Modified: 2024-05-02 13:33
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