This striking object reflects the fascination that ornemanistes from the 17th century onward had for the exotic animals of Africa and the East. The arrival of a live rhinoceros in Rotterdam in 1741, and its subsequent travel to Versailles in early January 1749 and then to Paris, where it remained from February to April 1749 caused enormous excitement and exemplifies how current events and fashion were so closely intertwined. Inevitably, the marchands-merciers were quick to seize upon the mania created by the exotic animal's presence, and proceeded to supply objects à la rhinoceros.
Rhinoceros' such as this one subsequently frequently formed part of the base for large clocks. Clocks incorporating figures of rhinoceroses, elephants, bulls and lions were highly fashionable in mid-18th Century Paris. Draughtsmen and ornemanistes routinely produced, copied and plagiarized popular subjects in response to changing tastes and current events. In this way, models were disseminated to a number of workshops. The use of the rhinoceros as the basis for a tazza with Chinese enamel bowl and base undoubtedly is a development out of the marchand-mercier's vocabulary.