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Shelf Clock

A work made of mahogany, white pine, iron, brass, painted glass.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of mahogany, white pine, iron, brass, painted glass.


c. 1820–40


Benjamin Torrey
American, active c.1817–1843

About this artwork

An alternative to expensive tall case clocks, shelf clocks were more affordable in the early 19th century. On this piece, Benjamin Torrey used a technique called eglomise, in which paint is applied to the back of a glass pane so that the reverse image is visible to the viewer. The romanticized pastoral scene and the decorative motif that borders both the upper and lower cases evince the design possibilities in use during the Neoclassical period. This particular clock is rare in that it retains both its original glass and its striking mechanism. A prized possession, it remained in the Torrey family until the Great Depression.


On View, Gallery 172


Arts of the Americas


Benjamin Torrey


Shelf Clock


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

c. 1820–1840


Mahogany, white pine, iron, brass, painted glass


H.: 91.5 cm (36 in.)

Credit Line

Quinn E. Delaney and Vance American Art funds

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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