A GEORGE III ORMOLU, GENEVA ENAMEL AND PASTE-SET MUSICAL AUTOMATON QUARTER STRIKING TOWER CLOCK FOR THE CHINESE MARKET, LONDON, CIRCA 1790
LONDON - This magnificent automaton clock is one of the highlights of the Treasures sale this July and a testament to the trade and artistic influence between East and West.
The 17th and 18th centuries saw an explosion of European interest in all things Chinese. The import of goods such as tea, silks and porcelain from China grew rapidly but it was a one-way trade with the Chinese showing little interest in English commodities.
The East India Company, who controlled commerce with China, found that trading conditions were never easy and it was often essential to present lavish gifts to facilitate deals. High quality novelty clocks and watches made in London proved popular gifts and, as they filtered into the upper echelons of Chinese society, demand for these 'sing-songs' increased.
By the late 19th century it was housed at Jehol (Rehe), the summer palace of the Chinese Emperor, and was obtained by the famous Swiss/Chinese collector, Gustave Loup, who regarded it as one of his greatest treasures.
- composed of 5 tiers,
- the surmount with a multi-faceted automaton star
- above rotating paste-set pillars enclosing English enamel plaques,
- which transform into a paste-set rotating drum,
- the subsequent tiers each supported by 8 pillars to the canted corners and comprising;
- a rotating enamel-mounted cube set on each side
- with contra-rotating whorls;
- an enamel-mounted cube with 2½-inch enamel clock dial and
- containing a 2 train chain fusee movement,
- with anchor escapement and silk suspension,
- quarter striking on two bells,
- signed on the backplate Thompson, London;
- a water feature formed by spinning glass rods and
- with two swans swimming on a simulated pond;
- an enamel-mounted cube with a large metamorphic whorl and
- containing a substantial tandem-wound combination spring barrel and
- chain fusee movement with a 3½-inch pinned cylinder
- playing 2 airs on 8 bells with 14 hammers and driving all of the automaton features;
- the whole set with extremely fine guilloche Geneva enamel panels,
- finely pierced graduated galleries and
- mounted with crisply cast and chased floral swags,
- on foliate claw feet: together with a teak travelling case
- 116 cm high
1,000,000 — 1,500,000 GBP
$1,692,900 - $2,539,350