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A LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED MEISSEN AND CHINESE PORCELAIN PENDULE A L'ELEPHANT
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A LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED MEISSEN AND CHINESE PORCELAIN PENDULE A L'ELEPHANT

ATTRIBUTED TO JEAN-JOSEPH DE SAINT-GERMAIN, CIRCA 1750, THE MOVEMENT BY ANDRE FURET, THE ELEPHANT CIRCA 1750, PROBABLY MODELLED BY PETER REINECKE, THE CHINESE DRUM QIANLONG (1736-1795)

Details
A LOUIS XV ORMOLU-MOUNTED MEISSEN AND CHINESE PORCELAIN PENDULE A L'ELEPHANT
ATTRIBUTED TO JEAN-JOSEPH DE SAINT-GERMAIN, CIRCA 1750, THE MOVEMENT BY ANDRE FURET, THE ELEPHANT CIRCA 1750, PROBABLY MODELLED BY PETER REINECKE, THE CHINESE DRUM QIANLONG (1736-1795)
CASE: the hard-paste elephant enamelled in naturalistic tones, with blue crossed sword mark to underside, modelled standing on a rocky and flower-strewn terrace base with pierced galleried front and acanthus, floral and brick-cast edge, supporting a turquoise-ground drum mounted with acanthus and surmounted by a rocaille clasp, restorations to the porcelain, originally with an ormolu wreath mounted with polychrome porcelain flowers surrounding the drum, two bronzes reattached back-to-front, the repoussé belt strap re-used DIAL: the replaced white enamel dial with Roman hours and Arabic minutes with pierced gilt-metal hands and signed 'ANDRE FURET A PARIS', later dial plate MOVEMENT: the twin barrel movement with four pillars, numbered countwheel, striking on a bell, recoil anchor escapement and silk suspension, the backplate signed 'Andre Furet A Paris'
23 5/8 in. (60 cm.) high; 19 in. (48 cm.) wide
Provenance
By repute, the Chinese Palace, Oranienbaum, Russia.
Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1928).
Corina Kavanagh, Buenos Aires; sold J.C. Naón & Cía, Buenos Aires, 27-29 September 1950, lot 107.
Gaby Salomón, Buenos Aires.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's London, 25 June 1982, lot 72.
Literature
Exposición de Arte Francés Siglos XVII y XVIII, Collección Gaby Salomón, Catalogue, Buenos Aires, October 1959, no. 153 (illustrated on the cover).
J.-D. Augarde, Les Ouvriers du Temps, Geneva, 1996, pp. 314-5, no. 240.
D. Langeois, et al., Quelques Chefs d'Oeuvres de la Collection Djahanguir Riahi, Milan, 1999, pp. 108-109.
Exhibited
Buenos Aires, Exposición de Arte Francés Siglos XVII y XVIII, Collección Gaby Salomón, October 1959.
Special Notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Lot Essay

This exceptionally large Meissen model of an elephant was probably modelled by Peter Reinecke (1715-68), the pupil of Johann Joachim Kändler at the Meissen porcelain factory. A very similar model of an elephant draped with a blanket, with a sultan seated on a howdah and a blackamoor boy upon the elephant's neck, dated 1743 (on the elephant only), is attributed to Peter Reinecke on the basis of an extract by him dated 1743: 1 Elephanten 9 Zoll hoch mit einer verzierten Decke überhangend, in Thon bossirt (Carl Albiker, Die Meissner Porzellantiere im 18. Jahrhundert, Berlin, 1959, p. 27, no. 255) and two further examples with sultans and boys are in the Residenz, Ansbach (Rainer Rückert, Meissener Porzellan 1710-1810, Munich, 1966, pp. 191-2 & 263, nos. 1060-61). Though the Riahi elephant is not modelled with a blanket or additional porcelain figures, the similarities in the modelling, particularly the trunk, the eyes, ears and the overall stylised depiction of the animal are clear and support an attribution to Reinecke.

The scale of this model and its lack of riders or blanket are extremely rare. Only one other version of this plain model of a similar size is known to exist, mounted or unmounted, and is in the form of a clock with identical pierced asymmetrical terrace base and Chinese turquoise porcelain drum, with the dial signed 'Jacques Panier A Paris'. It retains its further ormolu wreath around the drum mounted with polychrome-painted Meissen porcelain flowers, as well as additional acanthus-cast mounts to the elephant's girth strap and demonstrates the creativity and resourcefulness of the marchands-mercier in combining varied, delicate and precious materials to create a true objet de luxe. The only difference between the Panier and Riahi elephants is in the decoration - the former's toes and trunk are grey rather than black-painted. The Panier clock was previously in the collection of Diane de Castellane and was sold at Sotheby's Monaco, 9 December 1995, lot 44.

The Count Brühl inventory of October 1753 lists twelve small Meissen model elephants, five elephants 'mit Thürmen' (with towers/castles) and eighteen elephants without - all small versions of the model. Three clocks incorporating the smaller model of blanket-covered elephant with sultan and blackamoor exist - one in the Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor (G. de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, London, 1974, vol. I, no. 16), one in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (Tardy, French Clocks, vol. I, p. 292) and one previously in the collection of H.J. Joel, 15 Grosvenor Square, London (sold Christie's London, 17 April 1980, lot 100). Other smaller examples of elephants exist without further porcelain figures, such as that sold from the Königlische Hof Conditerei at Sotheby's, 12 June 2001, lot 171.

Mantel clocks with elephant supports were popular during the reign of Louis XV, and many examples exist with the animals modelled in bronze and ormolu, including some signed by Jean-Joseph de Saint Germain with the same asymmetric terrace base. The vast majority of these depict elephants with raised trunks, based on 17th-century Japanese porcelain models, such as the Kakiemon elephants listed in 1688 in the collection of John Cecil, 5th Earl of Exeter at Burghley House, Lincolnshire (J. Ayers, O. Impey, J.V.G. Mallet, Porcelain for Palaces, The Fashion for Japan in Europe, 1650-1750, London, 1990, p. 178, no. 160).

JEAN-JOSEPH DE SAINT-GERMAIN
Elected as a maître fondeur en terre et en sable on 15 July 1748, Saint-Germain (1719 - 1791) enjoyed the privilege of an ouvrier libre - enabling him to act both as an ébéniste and bronzier. He frequently supplied cases cast with animal forms and allegorical figures to the leading clockmakers of Paris, including the le Roy workshops, Etienne Lenoir and Jean-Philippe Gosselin.

JEAN-ANDRE FURET
Received as maître in 1710. Furet (c.1690 - c.1778) Established in Rue de Saint-Honoré in 1747. He used clock cases by André-Charles Boulle and Marchand and worked for the court of Augustus II of Saxony.

A DIPLOMATIC GIFT FROM FRANCE TO RUSSIA?
When sold from the collection of Corina (Cora) Kavanagh in 1950, the provenance for this very rare elephant clock (which at that point still retained its original wreath of Meissen flowers) was given as 'Oranienbaum Palace, Russia'. As yet no trace of the clock has been found in late 19th and early 20th century photographs of the Palace, nor in the sales held circa 1930 by the German auctioneer Rudolph Lepke on the orders of the Soviet state, in which many treasures from the Imperial collections were sold off. It is very possible that this clock entered the collection of Empress Elizabeth of Russia in the mid-18th century as part of a diplomatic gift from Louis XV - possibly as part of that orchestrated by the marquis de l'Hôpital and Count Vorontsov circa 1757, which included precious porcelain purchased through the marchand-mercier Lazare Duvaux from the Sèvres manufactory such as an important Vincennes bleu lapis two-handled baluster vase and domed cover, sold Christie's London, 12 May 2012, lot 240. The dating of the latter (1755-56) makes it clear that this gift, which was incredibly important given the context of the Seven Years War (1756-63), was made up not only of specially commissioned pieces but also of items purchased 'second-hand' and thus dating to earlier than the gift itself - such as (potentially) the Riahi clock.

THE CHINESE PALACE AT ORANIENBAUM
Founded by Prince Menshikov (d. 1729), the estate at Oranienbaum (known today by its post-war name of Lomonosov) is the oldest of the Imperial Palaces around St. Petersburg. After Menshikov's death, Oranienbaum passed to the state, and was used as a hospice until 1743; it was subsequently presented by the Empress Elisabeth to her nephew, the future Peter III. After Peter was overthrown, Catherine the Great commissioned the architect Antonio Rinaldi to build the Chinese Palace as her official country residence, which he worked on between 1762 and 1768, with Catherine herself taking great interest in the progress of the work. The result was a palace of incredible elegance and delicacy, nowadays considered one of the finest examples of Rococo architecture in Russia. The interiors were ornately decorated, yet the word 'Chinese' is by no means a faithful portrayal: at the time, the word 'Chinese' was commonly used to describe the exotic, remote and mysterious. Indeed, the wonderfully ornate interiors showcase a range of 18th-century styles, including Chinoiserie, but also Italianate murals, scagliola, painted silks, sophisticated stucco work, important glass from the Imperial Glass Factory and Meissen porcelain. Among the highlights of the interiors of the Chinese Palace is the Beaded Glass Salon, an awe-inspiring room whose walls are hung with panels of richly-coloured tapestries made up of glass beads depicting exotic birds and fauna, separated by gilded palm trees. Catherine the Great is known to have spent only forty-eight days in the Palace during her entire thirty-four year reign.

FEODOR CHALIAPIN
Feodor Chaliapin was one of the greatest opera singers of all time. He was born in Kazan in Russia in 1873, the son of a peasant. He was famed for his role as Boris Godunov and credited with establishing the tradition of naturalistic acting in opera. He died in Paris in 1938, where he had been based since circa 1921.

CORA KAVANAGH
The Argentinian socialite and hostess Corina Kavanagh was the daughter of a wealthy Irish immigrant who made his fortune in livestock.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1895, she is mostly remembered for the incredible commission of a futuristic skyscraper, known as the Kavanagh Building. In 1934, Corina persuaded her father to build a visionary skyscraper in the centre of Buenos Aires. The commission was given to the architects Gregorio Sanchez, Ernesto Lagos and Luis Mara de la Torre. Built in the Art Deco Style, The Kavanagh was incredibly avant-garde, being the highest reinforced concrete structure in the world, as well the tallest building in South America in the first half of the 20th century. Today, it is still considered one of the best examples of early Modernism in Argentina.

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