Horology in art
JOHN WHORF (1903–1959), "Abandoned Farm, No. 2," c. 1940, watercolor on paper, 14 x 22 in., collection of Bob Frishman, Massachusetts

Horological Society of New York New York City
through April 30, 2022

Artists have enthusiastically depicted clocks and watches ever since mechanical timepieces were invented seven centuries ago. Often these objects appear in artworks as reminders of human mortality or as symbols of affluence, discipline, occupation, or technological sophistication.

Now the Horological Society of New York (HSNY) is presenting a rare exhibition of more than 60 examples, Horology in Art, nearly all on loan from its member Bob Frishman. Based in Massachusetts, he has been a clock restorer and writer-lecturer on horology for more than 30 years. This is the second exhibition Frishman has mounted at HSNY; the first, presented in 2019, featured 50 unusual watches, clocks, instruments, and related ephemera — also from his own rich collection.

On view now — just for example — are a folk portrait of a mother and child holding a pocket watch; Anatol Kovarsky’s preparatory watercolor for a New Yorker magazine cover showing a watchmaker; a portrait miniature on ivory in which a young woman’s watch and chain are visible; and the watercolor by Provincetown artist John Whorf illustrated here.

Among the canonical artists represented in the show’s prints section are Jan Steen, Giovanni Piranesi, Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, and Salvador Dalí. The vintage photographs include daguerreotypes, cabinet cards, cartes de visites, glass lantern slides, and several of Mathew Brady’s Civil War-era portraits. Frishman has also gathered digital images of more than 2,000 other examples, now projected in a continuous slideshow inside the exhibition.

To mark this occasion, Frishman has prepared a 16-page illustrated catalogue that opens with some recollections from his two-decade-long search for these items. The publication also includes a treasure-hunt list of a dozen horology-in-art paintings on regular view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, with thumbnail images and gallery numbers to help readers locate them easily. Among the artists represented in that group are Rubens, Ingres, and Eakins.

To schedule a visit to the Society’s midtown Manhattan space, e-mail [email protected]  or register via its website.

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