Large Chinese Qing Imperial Pendulum Clock
A Large Rare and Genuine Antique French Gilt-Bronze and Champleve Enamel Clock, Circa 1890/1900; Case: Of four-glass form, well bevelled glass sides, embellished on the front and sides with panels of polychrome champleve enamel on a turquoise ground with olive leaf crown feet, four champleve enamelled side porticos (each decorated with two 0.75-inch (1.95 cm) diameter champleve enamelled medallions, top and bottom), champleve enamelled rectangular dome top, surmounted by a champleve enamelled twin handled urn and four finials, 4 1/4-inch (10.80 cm) enamel dial with a surround decorated champleve enamel, the case enamel decorated mercury pendulum Movement: Circular plated movement stamped JUST, C.H. PARIS, A.1 and marked MADE IN FRANCE, 2397 5.8, 8-day time and half-hour strike on a coiled gong, 19th/20th Century; Provenance: A private collector who used to be a NAWCC (National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, Inc.) member; Chan Collection, Toronto
This is a large-sized clock approximately 20-inch high, 9-inch long, and 7-inch wide (50.8 cm high, 22.86 cm long, 17.75 cm wide) and French champleve clocks of this size are rare. Each of the four champleve enamelled side porticos is approximately 2.6 inches (6.6 cm) in circumference. The champleve enamelled rectangular dome top is approximately 5.6 x 4.2 inches (14.25 cm x 10.67 cm). The champleve enamelled twin handled urn is approximately 4 inches in diameter (not including the handles). Also, olive leaf crown feet are rarely seen on French clocks.
The "JUST" enclosed within a circle stamp and C.H. PARIS stamp indicate that this clock was made by Charles Hour, a Paris clockmaker, founded in 1852 (generally, in terms of quality workmanship, Paris clockmakers are above most provincial clockmakers). Charles Hour was most active at the turn of the 20th century (1890 - 1910), and the earliest movements had C.H. PARIS stamped on the back plate (later movements, circa mid 1900's, stamped C.H HOUR FRANCE and circa 1910's onward stamped only "JUST"). In 1927, Charles Hour merged with Maurice Lavigne (founded 1848) and established the brand name Hour Lavigne. Hour Lavigne, a prestige brand, still produces some of the finest and most spectacular clocks today. Further reading: Karl Kochmann's Clock and Watch Trademark Index - European Origin, Antique Clocks Publishing (1977).
The turquoise-ground champleve enamel "fleur de lys" and the "A.1" stamp on the circular plated movement indicate that this French clock was made for the Chinese market during the late 1890's/early 1900's (as also indicated by the C.H. Paris stamp). This clock would most likely have been a sovereign luxury at the time in China and could have been owned by a Qing Royal family or a high Qing official or a prominent wealth family.
The huge collection of western clocks at the National Palace Museum in Beijing obviously indicates that the Qing emperors liked French clocks very much. A very similar clock is in the Imperial Clock Collection of the National Palace Museum in the Forbidden City of Beijing; similar to Imperial Chinese clocks featured in a book on clocks of the imperial collection (pp. 224); book not included.