The clock swings within an ormolu leaf-cast and beaded double-gourd frame set with square-cut turquoise glass paste gems, with chased and matted decoration to the reverse. The frame surmounted by an ormolu finial of a stylised upside-down bat, its wings outstretched, below a pineapple. The circle of the gourd is held within an ormolu mount of acanthus leaves mounted on the oval-section waisted marble plinth, which itself has an openwork foliate mount. The swinging clock is suspended on a multi-coloured paste-gem-set steel and brass vertical bar centred by a circular medallion incorporating a ‘shou’ character for Longevity and framed within a border of red paste gems.
The white vitreous enamel dial (restored) has Roman hours within a minute track and Arabic quarters outside, the pierced gilt hour and minute hands are both paste-gem-st, while the counterbalanced sweep second hand is plain gilt. The whole is set within a multi-coloured paste gem set bezel with gilt beading.
The movement has knife-edge suspension to the top of the frame, the gilded circular plates are held by five gilded pillars, with twin barrels and rear winding. The dead-beat escapement has a steel escape wheel and pallets, both positioned on the back plate, with quarter-strike on a single bell with two hammers. The back plate is border engraved and inscribed with apparent ‘nonsense’ signature ‘Luouli’.
Guangzhou workshops, Quianlong period Circa 1780
A fine and rare Chinese imperial white marble ormolu-mounted paste-gem-set quarter striking double-gourd-shaped clock with swinging dial and movement.
It appears that this is one of only three recorded examples of this form, the other two have both sold recently at auction:
- Christie’s Hong Kong, Magnificent Clocks for the Chinese Imperial Court from the Nezu Museum, 27th May 2008, lot 1501, HKD 10,631,500 (£690,357)
- Christie’s London, The Exceptional Sale, 5th July 2012, lot 15, £457,250