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    Sale 2711

    The Imperial Sale, Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    27 May 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 1841

    AN EXCEPTIONAL IMPERIAL CHINESE ORMOLU, ENAMEL AND PASTE-SET STRIKING, MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON 'JARDINIERE' CLOCK

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN EXCEPTIONAL IMPERIAL CHINESE ORMOLU, ENAMEL AND PASTE-SET STRIKING, MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON 'JARDINIERE' CLOCK
    GUANGZHOU WORKSHOPS. QIANLONG PERIOD (1736-1795), LATE 18TH CENTURY

    CASE: finely decorated with coloured and transparent paste set against a translucent blue basse-taille enamelled ground, further detailed with red and green floral enamels and gold foils; the lower section with the front and two sides opening to reveal automaton scenes and the rear with silk-backed pierced ormolu rectangular panel; the middle section with an openwork ormolu gallery, each corner mounted with an ormolu vase, the canted angles each with double Corinthian pilasters, the front is set with the clock dial; the upper section formed as an octagonal jardiniere, issuing sprays of foil leaves mounted with multi-coloured paste-set flowerheads, two of them 'trembling' naturalistically and two of them automata

    DIAL: with red and white paste-set bezel and convex glass to white enamel dial, the pierced ormolu hands set via knob to the front of the tier below

    AUTOMATA: hourly, or at will by pulling a knob to the right front angle of the case, to the front of the base tier a recessed scene accommodating two lines of painted metal European figures parading with gardening tools and attributes; to the sides, painted and pierced panels show tropical birds amidst foliage, backed by spiral-twist glass rods to simulate waterfalls; the floral bouquet in the jardiniere with revolving flowerhead to the front and centred by a flower opening and closing naturalistically; all while music plays

    CLOCK AND MUSICAL AUTOMATA MOVEMENT: with triple chain and fusees wound from the rear and verge escapement, the back plate engraved with leafy sprigs, with hour strike on bell and hourly music playing via a pinned cylinder on eight bells with eight hammers, with drive to the automaton features
    30 in. (70.6 cm) high x 13 1/4 in. (33.7 cm.) wide x 10 1/4 in. (26 cm.) deep


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    A descendant of the court physician for the Ii family, the Daimyo of Hikone, Yotatsu Tanaka was a doctor of medicine and a keen collector of Kutani wares and Western antiques. His eclectic collection, and in particular the present ornate clock, was always somewhat at odds with his traditional Japanese home.

    As a small child Dr Tanaka's son, Kiyoshi Sato, persuaded his father to buy him a musical box which he had heard in an antique shop. This acquisition became the catalyst for establishing a collection of music boxes from around the world, a passion to which he devoted a great deal of time and effort. In 1992 Dr Sato's son, Ken Tanaka, opened the Nasu Orgel Museum, primarily devoted to musical boxes and automata from Mr Sato's collection, in memory of his father. The present clock, gifted to Ken Tanaka in 1956 by his grandfather, was kept in pristine condition at the museum although it was never displayed.

    The clock is to be offered at auction in order to raise funds to establish a new facility at the Nasu Orgel Museum for parents and children to learn about musical boxes in commemoration of the museum's 20th anniversary in 2012.

    An almost identical 'jardiniere' clock formerly from the Nezu Museum collection was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, Magnificent Clocks for the Chinese Imperial Court from the Nezu Museum, May 27, 2008, lot 1509 (fig.1). Both clocks have automata figures that move in confronting directions, indicating that the present and the Nezu clock were probably made as a mirror pair. A related example, in the Beijing Palace Museum, shows automaton flowers of closely related design to those found on the present clock but which are not fully functioning, illustrated by Liao Pin, Clock and Watches of the Qing Dynasty, Beijing, 2002, p. 55. A similar jardiniere clock from the Nezu Museum was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 27 May 2008, lot 1505, where the footnote discusses the Qing Palace fascination for decorative 'potted plants' which were given as tribute from the Guangdong workshops.

    Provenance

    Acquired in the 1930s in Shanghai by Dr Yotatsu Tanaka, and thence by descent


    Saleroom Notice

    The present clock was acquired from Yamanaka & Co., Kyoto in 1938 and illustrated in their catalogue, no. 3382


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM THE NASU ORGEL MUSEUM COLLECTION SOLD TO BENEFIT THE MUSEUM EDUCATION FUND