Tessa Murdoch
Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass, Victoria and Albert Museum
The Triumph of Music over Time: George Frideric Handel and Musical Clocks by Charles Clay


Monday, March 31, 2014


12:00 pm – 1:30 pm


38 West 86th Street

Open to BGC faculty, staff, and students only.
212-501-3019, academicevents@bgc.bard.edu


Tessa Murdoch will be giving a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Monday, March 31, 2014, from 12 to 1:30pm. She will be discussing “The Triumph of Music over Time: George Frideric Handel and Musical Clocks by Charles Clay.” 

Tessa Murdoch is Deputy Keeper of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics, and Glass at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London. She received her B.A. and PhD from the University of London. Prior to her current position, Murdoch was Deputy Curator (1990) and Acting Chief Curator (1996, 2000-2001) of Furniture and Woodwork at the V&A. Her numerous curatorial and publication projects include the following exhibits and associated catalogues for the V&A: Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars, 1509-1685 (2013), The Golden Age of the English Court 1509-1649 (2012-2013), Beyond the Maker's Mark: Paul de Lamerie Silver in the Cahn Collection (2006), and John Channon and English Brass Inlaid Furniture (1993-1994). Other recent publications include Going for Gold: The Craftsmanship and Collecting of Gold Boxes, co-editor, Heike Zech (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2013); The French Hospital in England: Its Huguenot History and Collections, co-author, Randolph Vigne (Cambridge: John Adamson, 2009); and Beyond the Border: Huguenot Goldsmiths in Northern Europe and North America (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2008).

The Triumph of Music over Time: George Frideric Handel and Musical Clocks by Charles Clay is the title of a small exhibition being shown at London’s Handel House Museum in Mayfair from November 2013 to February 2014.  The performance of Italian Opera in London in the 1720s caused a sensation, attracting sponsorship from the nobility and providing a market for expensive souvenirs. Charles Clay, a Yorkshire born clock- and watchmaker, created a series of musical organ clocks using tunes adapted from operas by contemporary composers including Handel. The clocks were presented as miniature temples, their architectural elements formed out of expensive silver, ebony and gilt bronze with sculptural decoration cast from models supplied by leading sculptors and painted backgrounds by scene painters from the opera houses. Marketing these expensive creations was challenging. Extracts from contemporary newspapers record viewings by members of the royal family and advertise the opportunity to visit the clockmaker’s own premises on purchase of a ticket which also served as entry to the raffle that might win for that visitor the ownership of one of these splendid clocks. The presentation will illustrate musical clocks by Charles Clay preserved in the British Royal Collection, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, and the V&A and in the Royal Collection, Naples and the Palace Museum, Beijing and demonstrate the close working relationship between artists, clock-makers, goldsmiths and sculptors in Augustan London.

Brown Bag Lunch