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    Sale 2608

    Magnificent Clocks for the Imperial Chinese Court from the Nezu Museum

    27 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1514

    A CHINESE GILT-METAL AND PASTE-SET STRIKING, MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON 'TIANGONG CIFU' CLOCK

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A CHINESE GILT-METAL AND PASTE-SET STRIKING, MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON 'TIANGONG CIFU' CLOCK
    QING DYNASTY, LATE 19TH CENTURY, INCORPORATING EARLIER ELEMENTS

    CASE: modelled as a three-tier tower;
    The base section raised on foliate cast feet with foliate apron mounts between, the front modelled with rockwork and bamboo above a balustraded gallery, framing an aperture with painted metal doors opening to an automaton scene of carved and painted wood figures, of Eight Daoist Immortals and Shoulao holding a peach and in turn flanked by two attendants, above a glass rod automaton waterfall and paste-set automaton flower (see below), the sides with silk-backed floral trellis sound frets and the rear panel cast with Pan pipes and horns, the four angles mounted with caryatids trailing flowers above rampant lions;
    The middle section housing the clock, the sides applied with mounts cast as Pan pipes and horns and the canted angles with composite floral sprays;
    The upper section with a balustraded platform mounted with urn finials, these framing a domed hexagonal pavilion elaborately embellished with a dense design of flowers and leaves, an aperture revealing a carved and painted wood automaton figure of a scroll-bearing official, the domed roof supporting rotating stars, clusters of thin green leaves and an automaton 'pineapple' finial, all encrusted with brightly coloured paste gems (see below)

    DIAL: with gilded dial plate and gilded spandrels to white enamel chapter disc with Roman numerals, gilt-metal hour, minute and seconds hands, the arch with harbour scene painted on silk and applied to the dial plate

    AUTOMATA: hourly, the doors open and the Eight Immortals revolve around Shoulao and his attendants in the aperture; below them the spiral-twist glass rods revolve to simulate a waterfall and the flowerhead spins; in the pavilion above the official unravels a scroll inscribed with the characters Tianguan Cifu ('Prosperity Bestowed by the Official of Heaven'); at the top the foliate finial turns; all this while music plays, then the doors close again and the performance ends

    CLOCK MOVEMENT: probably English, late 18th Century, with rectangular plates joined by five pillars, rear-wound twin chain and fusees with knife-edge verge escapement, hour strike on bell, with hourly trip to;
    MUSICAL AUTOMATA MOVEMENT: probably French/Swiss, late 18th Century, housed in the base section, with chain and fusee wound from the left side of the case, playing eight tunes with automatic change, via pin barrel with twenty-two hammers on twelve bells, with gearing to automata above

    37 in. (94 cm.) high x 14¼ in. (36 cm.) wide x 12¼ in. (31 cm.)


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