A Surinam-themed Amsterdam long-case clock
The Netherlands, 1746-1756, dial signed Nicolaas Weylandt/Amsterdam
The case of the clock is made of Rio palissander veneer and snakewood, with the arch showing a painted scene of the harbour of Paramaribo, Fort Zeelandia and Dutch ships in anchorage, the spandrels decorated with figural representations of the four continents, the centre of the dial painted with Mercury, the god of trade, seated on a bale signed VCS (Vereenigde Compagnie Suriname), and one of the barrels bearing the initials “RBS,” on the left the river god of the Surinam river, with a Dutch three-master in the background.
H. 259 x W. 60 x D. 35 cm (case)
Diam. 32 cm (clock dial)
This exceptionally rare long-case clock probably was ordered by one of the many wealthy families living along the Amsterdam canals that owned or had shares in plantations in Surinam. It’s a successful marriage of
the work of an accomplished 18th century Amsterdam clockmaker, a Dutch cabinetmaker working with exotic tropical timbers, a woodcarver familiar with both Dutch rococo design and Surinamese iconography, and
a painter with knowledge, whether first-hand or through other visualisations, of the Paramaribo waterfront. In the production of this Gesamtkunstwerk, only the name of the clockmaker is known: Nicloaas Weylandt (c. 1700 - 1754), who had a business situated on the Nieuwendijk near the Haarlemmersluis in Amsterdam from 1742 until his death.
The case is made of imported timbers from Surinam; Rio-palissander and snakewood. A very similar clock-case, veneered in walnut, is illustrated in J. Zeeman, De Nederlandse staande klok, Zwolle, 1996, and dated c. 1740. That clock is also by Weylandt, so the case most likely also is by the same cabinetmaker working for Weylandt. Zeeman points out that 18th-century Dutch clockmakers relied extensively on imported clock parts, like the clock face, the various dials and clock hands, mainly from Britain. Besides, Amsterdam clockmakers outsourced the cabinetmaking, carving and painting to independent artisans. The Surinam character of the clock is evident not only in the timbers used, nor in the painted view of Paramaribo in the clock arch, but also very specific in the depiction of the parrots in the carved rococo centre block in the arch and the smaller carving in the door. Weylandt’s clock has a 7-day twin-barrel anchor movement, with a bell-strike on the hour and half-hour. It is fitted with a second dial, day aperture and alarm setting disk.
De Grote Suriname Tentoonstelling, Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam, 5 October 2019 - 2 February 2020.