• 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 1508

    A SUPERB IMPERIAL CHINESE ORMOLU AND PASTE-SET STRIKING, MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON 'TRIBUTE BEARERS' CLOCK

    Price Realised  

    A SUPERB IMPERIAL CHINESE ORMOLU AND PASTE-SET STRIKING, MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON 'TRIBUTE BEARERS' CLOCK
    GUANGZHOU WORKSHOPS. QIANLONG PERIOD (1736-1795), LATE 18TH CENTURY

    CASE: modelled in three tiers;
    The base section of rectangular outline and raised on stiff leaf cast plinth above openwork foliate cast feet with foliate scroll cast aprons between, the angles applied with mounts modelled as stylised overlapping stiff leaves, with further beaded mounts framing the plain ormolu surfaces of the four sides, the front with glazed panel framed by red and clear paste gems, revealing an automaton 'tribute bearers' scene against a mirrored background and with painted scenes of European architecture to the sides (see below), the case sides embellished with a circular reverse-glass painting of European-style figures in landscape, each within an ormolu frame and a tied leafy branch mount, the rear with silk-backed brass foliate-pierced brass panel and with rubbed paper inventory label 17;
    The middle section bordered by an openwork gallery, the four corners of the platform each with an urn mount topped by an automaton whirligig, the case with canted angles and housing the clock, the front applied with paste-set floral sprays with red, clear, blue and green glass stones, the sides each adorned with a stylised neo-classical urn appliqué within an oval flowerhead cartouche, with stiff leaf cast base and cornice mouldings, the rear door with silk-backed foliate pierced brass panel;
    The upper section also bordered with an openwork gallery, the platform mounted to all four corners with a lanceolate leaf cast urn, each topped by a pair of automaton catherine-wheels set with clear, red and green paste gems, these flanking four large acanthus-cast scrolls, supporting a drum case housing ingenious automata (see below), its rear with silk-backed foliate pierced brass panel matching those below, a further foliate cast ormolu mount above supporting a painted metal and paste-gem set automaton bouquet also mounted with 'trembling' flowers

    DIAL: with red and white paste-set bezel and deep convex glass to white enamel dial with Roman hours and Arabic quarter chapters, with gilt spade hands and seconds hand

    AUTOMATA: hourly, or by depression of a button to the left mid section of the case, to the front two rows of cut-metal painted European figures, elephants and horses parade on chains in a circle around a stationary row of trees; the whirligigs revolve and the double catherine-wheels spin, while the floral bouquet at the top turns; the upper automaton with paste-set bezel and deep convex glass over, comprising paste eight gem set flowerheads and with eight cones painted with gilt designs against a bright blue enamelled ground, with eight further inner florets, all turning and revolving simultaneously in sophisticated pattern; all while music plays

    CLOCK MOVEMENT: with rectangular plates joined by plain pillars, twin chain and fusees with knife edge verge escapement, hour strike on bell, plain gilded back plate with rear wind and hand set, with hourly trip to;

    MUSICAL AUTOMATA MOVEMENT: housed in the base, with chain and fusee wound from the rear, playing a selection of three tunes changed by a knob to the rear, via pinned barrel on eight bells with nine hammers, with gearing to the various automata
    33¼ in. (84 cm.) high x 14¼ in. (36.5 cm.) wide x 11½ in. (28.5 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