IN MUSEUMS : J.Paul Getty Museum 

Wall clock in chiselled gilded bronze

Louis XVI era

Face signed “Thomas à Paris”
Attributed to him

Location: Getty Museum
Origin: Kraemer gallery

 

The designs around the face evoke the wildness and the elusiveness of time. The winged pattern is a reference to the ancient symbol for time: a winged hourglass. The laurel branches surrounding the face and the garland hanging with fruit and flowers symbolise fame, immortality and death, respectively. They bring to mind the inevitability of the passing of time.

The design is evocative of the Latin phrase “Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero”, a line from a poem by Horace which means “Seize the day and do not concern yourself with tomorrow”. It encourages us to avoid worrying about the passing of time, and to focus instead on the present moment by enjoying the happy things in our lives without stopping to think about death.