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Restoration of the Arakcheyev Clock

One of the most interesting jobs carried out by the Laboratory for the Scientific Restoration of Clocks and Musical Mechanisms (M.P. Guryev, director) was the restoration of the timepiece known as the Arakcheyev Clock in 2003.

This tabletop memorial clock was commissioned by Count Arakcheyev in 1826 from the best Parisian bronzesmith Victor Ledure to commemorate the death of Emperor Alexander I. Rising from a massive base that conceals a mechanical organ is a stele containing the clock itself topped with a bust of the Emperor. To the right is a figure of Count Arakcheyev in mourning, to the left a pyramid of Russian arms. At 10.50 in the morning, the time the Emperor died, the clock chimed and doors in the lower part of the stele opened revealing a medallion bearing a portrait of the Emperor and an inscription giving the time of his death. Then the organ mechanism, created by the noted craftsman Davrainville, started up and played the melody of the prayer "Eternal Memory" three times.

When restoration began the organ and the mechanism opening the doors did not work, the clock mechanism was missing as was the portrait medallion and several decorative details.

The restorers carried out a great deal of work to recreate the clock mechanism, the organ and the housing. A clock mechanism akin to the original was found and purchased, then reworked to marry with the surviving clock-face (the first time the laboratory altered a mechanism to match a clock-face). New hands were made for the face and a pendulum. The organ needed three cogwheels to replace broken ones and pipes. A portrait medallion of Alexander I was chosen to fit and a new fillet made for it and gilded. The door mechanism was put back in working order. Deformation of the housing was corrected. Lost fastening details were made anew and the bronze cleaned. Now the clock is in working order and for the first time since it came into the Hermitage the mechanical organ plays.


Bronze mantel clock from Aracheyev's estate at Gruzino
1826-28
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Mechanical clockwork
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Assembly of the clock housing
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Mechanism of a mechanical organ
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