Alexandre Brochet received his maîtrise in 1729 and was recorded working on the Rue de la Verrerie from 1740-56.
This charming clock, with its drum-form base and kneeling magot figures in imitation of Chinese porcelain, festooned with porcelain flowers and on a distinctive rockwork base, relates to a well-known group of similar clocks which more normally feature figures in lacquered bronze attributed to the celebrated Martin frères, whose skill with lacquer was so renowned that it came to be known as ‘vernis martin’. A closely related clock with bronze figures was sold in An American Dynasty: The Clark Family Treasures, Christie's, New York, 18 June 2014, lot 115 ($137,500), while others are discussed in A. Forray Carlier and M. Kopplin, Les Secrets de la Laque Française, exh. cat., Paris, 2014, pp. 100-1. The Stafford clock in turn has the rare feature of figures in porcelain.
France's long fascination with the Orient dates to the mid-17th century, when lacquered screens, porcelains and other wares were imported and adapted into some of the rarest, most sophisticated objects produced in the 17th and 18th centuries. Parisian marchands-merciers such as Thomas-Joachim Hébert, Simon-Philippe Poirier and Lazare Duvaux sought to capitalize on the huge demand for these rare objects, and created their own versions of these prized imports. Using them for inspiration, along with contemporary engravings of the Chinese Emperor's court and designs by ornemanistes, the marchands-merciers created and promoted their own distinct aesthetic, the goût chinois, which was realized by a network of highly skilled artisans. These fanciful works were prized by the court of Louis XV and particularly by the celebrated connoisseur and Royal mistress, Madame du Pompadour, whose passion for chinoiserie and Japanese lacquer is well-documented.