Liao Pin ed., Clocks and Watches of the Qing Dynasty, From the Collection in the Forbidden City, Beijing, 2002
The acrobat automaton on this clock is a very unusual feature and we are not aware of other examples. Clocks with gates opening to reveal automata are known, however. In the Palace Museum in Beijing there are two examples, one where the gates open to show a pagoda and another where they reveal a dragon blowing a ball (see Liao Pin, op. cit., pp.68 and 71). Both of those clocks follow the tiered construction of the present clock, with the gates in the middle section. This clock differs from other examples also in its relatively restrained decoration. The use of paste gems is considerably less than on many Guangzhou clocks and there are no enamel panels, whilst the flat surfaces have been left un-embellished; in respect of the latter, contrast may be drawn with the highly elaborate raised ornamentation of one of the comparable Palace Museum clocks (Liao Pin, op. cit., p.71). The mixture of European neo-classical decorative forms such as campana vases with Chinese decorative forms is not unusual, although often such mounts are given a Chinese 'flavour' with the addition of further ornamentation such as paste gem flowers and originally the present clock would have had these.