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Enquiry from Online Galleries regarding "Antique Oriental Gilt Striking Lantern Clock"
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The case is of classic lantern style, the turned finials supporting the large hour bell above. The side columns form the frame in which the three train movement is positioned and the dial is held in place by two rivetted latches. This dial with silvered-chapter ring is reminiscent of English work made a century earlier.
The clock strikes each quarter hour on the four bells enclosed beneath the main hour bell and within the engraved and pierced 'gallery' frets. The entire case bears the original thick gilding including the pulley wheel for the driving weight.
The Emperor Kangxi (1661-1722) and his grandson the Emperor Qianlong (1735-1796) were both fascinated by European clocks and scientific instruments, examples of which can still be found in the Palace Museum in Beijing. The first European clocks to arrive in China were generally diplomatic gifts to the Imperial Court. The East India Company also imported London-made clocks into the port of Canton in the eighteenth century, where European merchants were allowed to trade with the Chinese. One Jesuit priest, Father Valentin Chalier, left the following description of the Imperial clock collection in 1735: “…as for clocks, the Imperial Palace is stuffed with them. Watches, carillons, repeaters, automatic organs, mechanised globes of every conceivable system – there must be more than four thousand from the best masters of Paris and London…” (Barber, p.171)
The Emperor Kangxi established a special workshop, the so-called Office of Self-Ringing Bells in 1689, where Chinese craftsmen were taught clock-making by Europeans. This imperial workshop eventually produced clocks and watches of a high standard, based on European models.
Some of the parts of this clock have Chinese characters engraved on the back of the pierced fretwork. It is therefore not unreasonable to suggest that this lantern clock was made in China in the 18th century, possibly in the imperial workshops, its design inspired by English clock-making of a century or so earlier. The use of the dragon’s heads for the rear wall spikes, lighter shallower engraving throughout, together with decorative, plumed quarter bell securing nuts reinforce this suggestion.
Brian Loomes, Lantern Clocks & their Makers (Mayfield, 2008)
|Height||17.50 inch||(44.45 cm)|