Liao Pin ed., Clocks and Watches of the Qing Dynasty, From the Collection in the Forbidden City, Beijing, 2002
The acrobat automaton on this clock is a very unusual feature and we are not aware of other examples. Clocks with gates opening to reveal automata are known, however. In the Palace Museum in Beijing there are two examples, one where the gates open to show a pagoda and another where they reveal a dragon blowing a ball (see Liao Pin, op. cit., pp.68 and 71). Both of those clocks follow the tiered construction of the present clock, with the gates in the middle section. This clock differs from other examples also in its relatively restrained decoration. The use of paste gems is considerably less than on many Guangzhou clocks and there are no enamel panels, whilst the flat surfaces have been left un-embellished; in respect of the latter, contrast may be drawn with the highly elaborate raised ornamentation of one of the comparable Palace Museum clocks (Liao Pin, op. cit., p.71). The mixture of European neo-classical decorative forms such as campana vases with Chinese decorative forms is not unusual, although often such mounts are given a Chinese 'flavour' with the addition of further ornamentation such as paste gem flowers and originally the present clock would have had these.
AN EXCEPTIONAL IMPERIAL CHINESE ORMOLU AND PASTE-SET QUARTER-STRIKING, MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON 'ACROBAT' CLOCK
The base section of rectangular outline and raised on a foliate cast plinth supported by four acanthus cast scroll feet with pierced floral apron mounts between, with an openwork paste-bordered oval to the front inset with automaton spiral-twisted green glass rods radiating from a paste-set circular medallion, flanked by gilt-metal openwork stylised floral appliqués, the sides similarly decorated with appliqués, the rear with a pierced silk-backed trellis work panel, the upper borders mounted with red, green and clear glass paste gems, with pierced gallery mounts above, the upper platform further embellished at each of its four corners with a neo-classical covered urn;
18th Century, automaton, musical, quarter striking, dial, Clocks, time-telling instruments, gold ground / ormolu, China, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Clocks, Marine Chronometers & Barometers
35¼ in. (89.5 cm.) high x 15¾ in. (40 cm.) wide x 12¼ in. (31 cm.) deep