Henry Borrell, London. A Large and substantial, Important and Very rare Qianlong Period, finely chased and engraved Ormolu, musical and quarter striking table clock with ships automaton, made for the Chinese market

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Lot 877
Henry Borrell, London, A Magnificent and Large Chased and Engraved Ormolu Quarter Striking Musical Clock with Automata 'Sailing Ships', Made for the Chinese Market, Circa 1795

Sold for HK$ 3,875,625 (US$ 498,183) inc. premium
HENRY BORRELL, LONDON. A MAGNIFICENT AND LARGE CHASED AND ENGRAVED ORMOLU QUARTER STRIKING MUSICAL CLOCK WITH AUTOMATA 'SAILING SHIPS', MADE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET, CIRCA 1795
Year: Circa 1795
Movement: Large three train chain fusee movement striking on bells, rack striking on a nest of eight bells playing two musical tunes, playing on the hour or at will through a button on the side of the case, highly decorative engraved floral and scroll back-plate, when the music is activated the engraved panel raises to reveal an automaton scene of painted ships and galleons on a realistically portrayed sea, the sea replicated by twisted glass rods turning within the automaton.
Dial: White enamel dial with Roman numerals, centre seconds, the bezel set with red paste stones, similarly decorated paste setting to the rectangular aperture surrounding the concealed automaton scene
Case: The exquisitely and finely chased and engraved ormolu case with floral motifs throughout, applied highly detailed balustrading work and finely shaped and engraved feet, pierced and engraved door revealing the movement
Dimensions: 655mm High, 285mm Length, 365mm Wide at the base.

Footnotes

  • Henry Borrell,華麗及大型,清朝年代銅鎏金精雕活動人偶報時報刻音樂座鐘,為中國市場製造,年份約1795。


    EUROPEAN CLOCKS MADE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET

    The Chinese Imperial court's fascination with striking clocks engineered in the West, has roots in the first European Jesuit missions to China by Matteo Ricci and Michele Ruggieri in the mid-16th Century. Mechanical clocks were among the most prized tributary gifts given to Chinese courtiers and ultimately to Emperors of the late Ming (1368 – 1644) and Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911), who were impressed by the West's technological prowess and as a result, allowed European emissaries access to China. The Emperor Qianlong (1736 – 1795) amassed possibly the largest collection of watches and clocks with his voracious appetite for Western horological treasures during his reign; and commissioned Chinese-made clocks crafted in the Imperial Palace workshops in Guangzhou. According to a conservator at the Palace Museum, Beijing, there are "nearly 1,600 timepieces in the collection of The Palace Museum – all hailing from the Qing dynasty" with some items kept in their temperature-controlled basement storage.1

    RECENTLY DISCOVERED MASTERPIECE BY HENRY BORRELL

    The present magnificent clock is made by famous English Master clockmaker Henry Borrell (1794 – 1840), who is known for his decorative and exquisitely crafted export market clocks made for the Chinese and Turkish markets. Henry Borrell was a London Master watch and clockmaker whose address was registered at 15 Wilderness Row (1795-1840).

    The centre seconds hand was extremely popular at that time, as was the ting-tang quarter striking system whereby every fifteen-minute interval is struck on two bells and hammers, powered by the strike train. The chased and engraved ormolu decorated case, further accented by cast foliate mounts and outswept feet are characteristic of Henry Borrell's clocks made for the Chinese Imperial market. The shutter lifts to reveal an automata scene of painted metal sailing ships moving in two directions amidst spiralling glass rods simulating sea waves.

    Recently discovered in a Japanese private collection, this important and magnificent Henry Borrell clock offers a new audience of collectors the chance to revel upon an automata scene of ships riding on glass 'waves' and listen to the musical and quarter striking chimes, once again marvelling in its beauty and technical complexity like Emperor Qianlong would have.

    COMPARABLE EXAMPLES OF HENRY BORRELL CLOCKS

    • Christie's 27th May 2008 Magnificent Clocks for the Chinese Imperial Court from the Nezu Museum auction in Hong Kong Lot 1511 Henry Borrell with sailing ships automata, musical quarter striking with guilloché enamel decoration, height 74 cm sold for HK$36,167,500.

    • Christie's 27th May 2008 Magnificent Clocks for the Chinese Imperial Court from the Nezu Museum auction in Hong Kong Lot 1515 Henry Borrell musical quarter striking, with automata feature and chased ormolu decoration, height 43 cm, smaller and less complex than the present lot sold for HK$6,151,500.

    • Christie's 5 July 2012 Exceptional Sale auction in London Lot 36 Henry Borrell, a very similar proportioned clock to the present lot, also chased and engraved ormolu, musical quarter striking, with sailing ships automata, height 76 cm sold for £735,650 (HK$8,865,318).

    Several comparable clocks can be found in the Palace Museum, Beijing and are illustrated in 'Clocks and Watches of the Qing Dynasty From the Collection in the Forbidden City', published by Foreign Language Press 2002; see plates 92, 93, 94, 96, 97, 99 and 104. The movements were sometimes used in conjunction with human automata figures animated to strike bells with hammers, or alongside stone-set wheels and flowerheads.

    Also, there is a Henry Borrell clock with engraved ormolu and enamel decoration in the Palace Museum collection, Beijing. According to our research, the Palace Museum clock is also musical and has a similar aperture and automata scene of ships like the present lot and the above-mentioned lot which sold at Christie's London for £735,650 (HK$8,865,318). For comparative examples, refer to Lu Yangzhen, Timepieces Collected by the Qing Emperors in the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 100. A smaller and less complex chased ormolu musical and automaton clock by Henry Borrell (mentioned above) was also sold in the Christie's sale featuring Imperial clocks from the Nezu Museum collection, lot 1515 (HK$6,151,500).

    Other examples are illustrated in White, English Clocks for the Eastern Markets, AHS 2012. There are several clocks signed by Henry Borrell, with others also signed for John Mottram and William Carpenter see Figures 8.13, 8.15, 8.16, 8.17, 8.18, 8.19 and 8.20.

    1Tong, N. (2018, December 14). Chinese artisans keep Qing emperors' clocks alive and ticking. The South China Morning Post, Retrieved from https://www.scmp.com/native/lifestyle/arts-culture/topics/out-and-about/article/2177986/chinese-artisans-keep-qing

    THE PROCESS AND APPLICATION OF ORMOLU
    The process to create an ormolu finished object is known as fire-gilding. A mercuric nitrate solution is applied on the bronze item, then a mixture of mercury and very fine powered gold is carefully layered on top. The object is placed in a kiln and heated to extreme temperature. The mercury thus vaporizes leaving the gold to adhere to the bronze item. However, the use of ormolu largely decreased after around 1830 due to the French regulation on the use of mercury. From the 19th century, the process of gilding bronze was replaced with a more commercialized electrochemical process known as electroplating or gold plating in order to save time and cost.
    The ormolu technique was mainly used to create some of the most refined and exquisitely finished ormolu mantel clocks in the late 18th century. To enhance the noble status of these mantel clocks, they combined the work of a highly skilled European craftsmen and the Chinese appetite for precious clock create some stunningly rare pieces. Lot 876 and 877 are excellent examples of such a cultural exchange between West and East.


    珍罕歐洲座鐘 - 為中國清代宮廷之製作

    自利馬竇(Matteo Ricci)及羅明堅(Michele Ruggieri)於16世紀中葉耶穌會傳教士攜同機械鐘等奇珍異寶首度來華, 並朝貢於王公大臣以至明代晚期(1368至1644年)及清代君主(1644年至1911年),中國宮庭即對西洋音樂打問鐘之非凡工藝深深著迷。歷代皇帝對西洋器物讚嘆之餘,御准歐洲使節來華,打開中西文化交流之門。乾隆皇帝(1736至1795年)尤其沉醉於西洋鐘錶,大肆收藏珍品之餘,更命廣州故宮工坊御製鐘錶。據北京故宮博物館專家研究,「故宮博物館共藏近1,600件時計,全部來自清朝」,部份更存於地窖之恆溫室。1

    亨利・博樂爾(Henry Borrell) 最新發現的經典之作
    此件華麗大型之銅鎏金精雕活動人偶報時報刻音樂座鐘由鐘錶大師Henry Borrell(亨利・博樂爾,1794至1840年)親製。 他於1794年1840年間居於倫敦Wilderness Row 15號,以專門製造銷往中國及土耳奇市場之精雕細刻座鐘而聞名。
    大三針及丁當雙鈴鎚報刻打問機芯皆為當時流行設計。精雕銅鎏金外殻由鑄造葉狀滾動雕刻基座及外張鐘腳都是亨利・博樂爾為中國帝國市場製造的「外銷鐘」的標誌特徴。簾門打開展示活動人偶(Automata)畫面,彩繪金屬帆船交錯而過,背景則以螺旋玻璃棒模擬海浪。
    此珍罕座鐘最近於日本私人收藏中發現,重新出土,極為珍罕懾人。為新的收藏家提供了一個機會,讓他們陶醉在七彩帆船乘琉璃浪濤而來的眩目景象、聆聽清脆響亮的音樂和報時報刻鐘聲,猶豫親歷當年乾隆皇帝初見西洋機械奇觀之驚嘆。

    相關之亨利・博樂爾(Henry Borrell)名鐘
    • 佳士得2008年5月27日「日本東京根津美術館藏──清宮御藏鐘錶」專拍編號1511 「英國倫敦喬治三世鎏金銅鑲嵌琺瑯料石轉花水法音樂鐘」,高74釐米,以港幣36,167,500拍出。
    • 佳士得2008年5月27日「日本東京根津美術館藏──清宮御藏鐘錶」專拍編號1515 「英國倫敦喬治三世鎏金銅鑲嵌料石轉花音樂鐘」,高43釐米,較上一拍品小及簡單,以港幣6,151,500拍出。
    • 佳士得2012年7月5日倫敦專拍,編號36,尺寸與本件非常接近,同為銅鎏金精雕報時報刻音樂鐘並有帆船畫自動畫面,高76釐米,以英鎊735,650(港幣8,865,318)拍出。

    北京故宮博物館亦收藏多件類似作品,並錄於2002年外文出版社的《清宮鐘錶集萃——北京故宮珍藏》,參見圖92、93、94、96、97、99及 104。同類機芯亦見於人偶敲鐘報時或與鑲寶石齒輪或花之女等設計。

    此外,另一銅鎏金精雕座鐘亦藏於北京故宮。文獻顯示該件亦為音樂鐘,視窗及自動機械帆船畫面亦與本件及上列以英鎊735,650(港幣8,865,318)拍出之作品相似。見陸燕貞《清宮鐘錶珍藏》,香港,1995年,頁100。上列另一件較小之亨利・博樂爾作品亦於「日本東京根津美術館藏──清宮御藏鐘錶」專拍(編號1515)以港幣6,151,500拍出。
    其餘例子見White著《English Clocks for the Eastern Markets》,AHS,2012年,其中數件由亨利・博樂爾之刻名,另外數件亦有John Mottram 及 William Carpenter簽署(見表8.13、8.15、8.16、8.17、8.18、8.19和8.20)。
    1Tong,N.(2018年12月14日)。中國工匠使清朝皇帝的鐘聲鮮活而滴答作響。 《南華早報》,摘自https://www.scmp.com/native/lifestyle/arts-culture/topics/out-and-about/article/2177986/chinese-artisans-keep-qing
Contacts
Henry Borrell, London. A Large and substantial, Important and Very rare Qianlong Period, finely chased and engraved Ormolu, musical and quarter striking table clock with ships automaton, made for the Chinese market
Henry Borrell, London. A Large and substantial, Important and Very rare Qianlong Period, finely chased and engraved Ormolu, musical and quarter striking table clock with ships automaton, made for the Chinese market
Henry Borrell, London. A Large and substantial, Important and Very rare Qianlong Period, finely chased and engraved Ormolu, musical and quarter striking table clock with ships automaton, made for the Chinese market
Henry Borrell, London. A Large and substantial, Important and Very rare Qianlong Period, finely chased and engraved Ormolu, musical and quarter striking table clock with ships automaton, made for the Chinese market
Henry Borrell, London. A Large and substantial, Important and Very rare Qianlong Period, finely chased and engraved Ormolu, musical and quarter striking table clock with ships automaton, made for the Chinese market
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