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John Russell (1745-1817)

Barometer & thermometer c.1810

Mahogany, verre églomisé, gilt bronze, glass | 108 x 32 x 8 cm (whole object) | RCIN 545

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  • Combined barometer and thermometer in a gilt metal case which tapers at the top and bottom around a central circular dial. Fitted with verre églomisé panels decorated with leaf trails and thistles. Twisted rope gilt bronze mouldings outline the case.

    John Russell was one of the most famous Scottish clock and watchmakers of his time. He was appointed Watchmaker to the Prince of Wales in 1811 but he is best known for his wheel barometers. Russell was probably born about 1745, and appears to have begun as a wright or blacksmith, before settling in Falkirk between 1765 and 1770. It is not known from whom he learned clockmaking, but he rapidly became a figure of some substance and influence in Falkirk. He was commissioned to construct a new public clock for the town steeple in 1815, which cost £100. Russell died in August 1817. There are three Russell barometers in the Royal Collection of which one went to The Prince of Wales after Russell became Royal Watchmaker in 1811. This model may be one of these two or possibly an earlier model A contemporary account in The Edinburgh Evening Courant of 6 July 1812 states 'On Monday, Mr. Russel of Falkirk, waited on his Royal Highness at Carlton House, when he had the honour of deliverying a superb gold chronometer of his making, according to R.H. gracious order. His Royal Highness, with his usual condescension, was pleased to declare his satisfaction with this specimen of Mr. Russell's workmanship' [sic]. There is an invoice from Russell in the Royal Archives for a chronometer and two barometers for £153 6s.

  • Medium and techniques

    Mahogany, verre églomisé, gilt bronze, glass


    108 x 32 x 8 cm (whole object)

  • Place of Production

    Falkirk [Scotland]

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