• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2608

    Magnificent Clocks for the Imperial Chinese Court from the Nezu Museum

    27 May 2008, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1507

    A FINE ENGLISH ORMOLU, VERRE EGLOMISÉ MOUNTED AND PASTE-SET MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON 'TROPICAL LANDSCAPES' CABINET CLOCK

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A FINE ENGLISH ORMOLU, VERRE EGLOMISÉ MOUNTED AND PASTE-SET MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON 'TROPICAL LANDSCAPES' CABINET CLOCK
    THOMAS BARNARD, LONDON. GEORGE III PERIOD (1760-1820), LATE 18TH CENTURY

    CASE: modelled in four tiers;
    The base section with acanthus-cast gallery supported on four foliate cast scroll and shell feet, with ormolu beaded mounts to all sides, framing the black, crimson and gilt verre eglomisé panels which border the automata scenes also mounted to each side (see below);
    The cabinet section supported on the backs of standing lions which flank silk-backed pierced ormolu sound frets to all sides, above them to the front two verre eglomisé doors open to reveal mirror backs and an interior of four replaced glass-fronted copper drawers, to the sides further panels of verre eglomisé depict birds and to the rear another shows a dog attacking a swan;
    The clock section with small foliate cast finials to the four corners, with further stepped plinth up to four engine-turned ormolu columns with Corinthian capitals, these flanking the clock dial to the front and further verre eglomisé panels to the sides and rear, the latter depicting a cottage amidst woods, with paper inventory label 11 also to the rear;
    The cupola section above a pierced later gallery with columns matching those below and supporting a domed roof applied with crescent moon and star mounts, above a cluster of spiral-twist glass rods simulating a waterfall, surmounted by a post of three conjoined balls which supports the automaton crescent moon finial

    DIAL: with red, white and green paste-set hinged bezel to convex glass, white enamel Roman and Arabic dial, blued steel hour and minute hands and gilt-brass seconds hand

    AUTOMATA: at will only, by pulling a button to the left base panel; to the front a glazed panel reveals tropical animals parading in a circle against a background painted with a European house in a wooded landscape, framed at the front by a cut out of painted foliage; to the right side a glazed panel is laid on a cut and painted metal scene decorated with tropical foliage and exotic animals, and behind it two tiers of spiral-twist glass rods forming automaton waterfalls; to the left side a glazed panel is laid on cut and painted metal foliage and trees and reveals a painted backdrop with an aperture showing spiral-twist glass rods forming an automaton waterfall, a further aperture showing a single glass rod depicting water flowing to the waterfall, whilst to the fore a waterwheel revolves and swans swim past between glass rods simulating water; to the rear a glazed panel is laid on a cut and painted scene depicting a house to one side and foliage to the other, framing a background painted with ships in a small harbour (formerly with automaton ships moving between glass rods simulating water); to the top a cluster of spiral-twist glass rods simulate a waterfall and above this the crescent finial revolves; all this while music plays

    WATCH MOVEMENT: of pocket watch type and with circular glass plates, hinged to open through the front of the case, with single chain and fusee and verge escapement, pierced and engraved cock, silvered regulation disc, signed Barnard/LONDON

    MUSICAL AUTOMATA MOVEMENT: housed in the base and wound through the rear, single chain and fusee, playing two tunes via pin barrel with eight bells and eight hammers, the tunes changed with a button to the rear, the unusual system moving the bells and hammers rather than the barrel, with gearing to the various automata (lacking connection to rear automata)

    33½ in. (85 cm.) high x 17 in. (43.5 cm.) wide x 15¼ in. (38.5 cm.) deep


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
    Arthur W J G Ord-Hume, The Musical Clock, Musical and Automaton Clocks and Watches, Mayfield, 1995
    Richard C R Barder, The Georgian Bracket Clock 1714-1830, Woodbridge, 1993
    Klaus Maurice, Die deutsche Räderuhr Band II, Munich, 1976
    Liao Pin ed., Clocks and Watches of the Qing Dynasty, From the Collection in the Forbidden City, Beijing, 2002
    Clocks signed Barnard, London are believed to be the work of Thomas Barnard of 72 Strand (active 1783-1823), a maker of musical clocks (see Ord-Hume, p.278.
    The revolving crescent moon finial and crescent moon mounts at the top of this clock suggest that it was destined for the 'Turkish' market, a market which included most of the Near East and Persia. Many such clocks were adorned with crescent finials (see Barder pp.160-161). However, it may be noted that the dial does not use Turkish numerals, a feature commonly found on clocks for that market and which English clock and watchmakers of the late 18th Century were well versed in using. It does, though, have a seconds hand, which is more usually found on clocks for the Chinese market. In apparent deference to Islamic sensibilities English clocks for the Turkish generally did not use figural representation (human or animal), although this rule was probably not strictly adhered to. A tortoiseshell-veneered clock with Turkish market numerals and dating from c.1790 illustrated by Barder (p.170) has an 'Oriental' scene painted with both a minaret and a Chinese figure; in London at the end of the 18th Century awareness of the iconography of different cultures was limited. It comes as little surprise therefore to find that a clock such as this was sent to China. The origins of the 'cabinet clock' lie in the elaborate altar-form clocks of late 17th/early 18th Century Augsburg (see Maurice, figs.704-724) and in London during the last quarter of the 18th Century smaller versions were produced by retailers such as James Cox, and Thomas Weeks, often incorporating necessaires. The Barnard clock may well originally have housed implements but the present drawers are replacements. Comparison may also be made with the Swiss dressing table clock (lot 1506) in this collection. In the Palace Museum a more elaborate cabinet clock retailed by Williamson has automatic doors (see Liao Pin, p.99).