Tardy, French Clocks The World Over Part II: From Louis XVI style to Louis XVIII-Charles X Period, Paris, 1981
Liao Pin ed., Clocks and Watches of the Qing Dynasty, From the Collection in the Forbidden City, Beijing, 2002
The sunburst design of this clock is extremely unusual and may owe its origins in part to Louis XVI models, such as double-faced swinging sunburst clocks (see Tardy, p.79) and possibly also to the elaborate bezels of some English clocks exported to China. In the Palace Museum, Beijing there are paste-set bezels in an approximate sunburst design on two such clocks (see Liao Pin, pp.134-137) and which may have influenced the Chinese makers of this clock.
It is interesting to note the subtle Chinese symbolism in the overall decorative design. A point of note is the unusual inclusion of a gilt-metal three-legged toad below the dial. This imagery is normally associated with the immortal Liu Hai, a god of wealth, and as such the toad itself is also recognised as a symbol of wealth. In addition it has lunar associations as it is reputed to live on the moon; an ancient name for the Moon Palace is the Palace of the Toad. Another feature is the phoenix standing above the 'sunburst' decorated dial, which may be interpreted as the sun. It forms the aupicious phrase Danfeng Chaoyang, 'The red phoenix under the bright warm sun'. In Chinese mythology the phoenix only appears in the time of peace and prosperity; its appearance augurs the emergence of an able ruler or the arrival of a great man.