A fine French porcelain inset ormolu 'Japonaise' mantel clock garniture
The porcelain front panel signed for C. Kiffert, circa 1880
The circular eight-day gong striking movement with recoil escapement for regulation by disc bob pendulum incorporating Brocot type rate adjustment to the suspension, the backplate stamped with serial number 5797 to upper left hand margin, the rectangular mid blue ground simulated cloisonné porcelain dial panel painted with bird and butterfly amongst chrysanthemum blooms to centre within pseudo Japanese character gilt cartouche numeral chapter ring and with fine pierced and engraved brass hands, the surround populated with additional insects and birds within flowering foliage incorporating shaped ornithological panels with the lower one signed C. Kiffert to left hand margin, the case with fine porcelain surmount modelled as a zoomorphic dragon carp set on a rectangular four-legged plinth over shaped stepped platform decorated with incised geometric patterns and with galleried bollard finials to corners, with cavetto top mouldings centred with a geometric decorated pendant panel flanked by stylised scroll-pierced projecting corbels to the front, over line-incised frame around the dial panel terminating with smaller conforming apron panel to the lower margin, the sides with arcaded panels inset with further matching porcelain panels each painted with a fan and geometric panel within a simulated cloisonné field decorated with birds and butterflies within delicate flowering foliage, the rear with hinged circular cover for the movement within geometric line decorated panel infill flanked by further pieced projecting corbels, on elaborate waisted cavetto moulded base bordered with geometric incised half-round band to upper margin and applied with scroll pierced projections matching the upper corbels to sides, over swollen skirt inset with further bird and flower painted porcelain panel flanked by geometric blind fretwork infill to front apron and incorporating elephant mask feet, the porcelain panels and case each inscribed with serial number 32495 to rear, 51cm (20ins) high; the matching side pieces each modelled in ormolu mounted porcelain as a square section tapered shoulder vase painted with birds, insects and panels on a simulated cloisonné ground with elephant mask handles over elaborate waisted base incorporating blind fretwork to apron and scroll feet, each 17cm (10.5ins) high, (3).
The current lot can be directly compared to another garniture of almost identical pattern (with the exception of having additional candelabra extensions to the side pieces) which was sold at Christies, London The Opulent Eye - 19 th Century Furniture, Sculpture & Works of Art 6 th March 2014 (lot 197) for a premium inclusive £35,000.
The full identity of the painter of the porcelain panels of the current lot, C. Kiffert, appears not to be recorded, however this signature is sometimes seen on large impressive porcelain vases often executed in the style of Sevres. One such example was sold at Christies, London 19 th Century Furniture, Sculpture, Works of Art & Ceramics 27 th September 2007 (lot 63) for a premium inclusive £18,500.
The painted porcelain surmount adorning the present clock is unusually modelled as a carp with a dragon's head. This form comes from the legend of Koi-no-Takinobori which has its roots in ancient China wherein carp swim, against all odds, up a waterfall known as the 'Dragon Gate' at the headwaters of China's Yellow River. The gods are very impressed by the feat, and reward the few successful carp by turning them into powerful dragons. The story symbolizes the virtues of courage, effort, and perseverance, which correspond to the nearly impossible struggle of humans to attain Buddhist enlightenment.
Movement appears complete and all original with no visible alteration or significant replacements. Although the mechanism will run and strike it is in dirty/neglected condition hence requires a clean/service. The dial panel is free from visible chips or cracks other than some very slight nibbling around the winding holes. The numerals may have been re-touched/strengthened and there is a slight firing blemish near the VIII numeral otherwise panel is in good albeit slightly dirty condition with minimal wear to the gilding.
The side panels are free from visible damage or restoration and have minimal gilt wear however are a little dirty. The dragon fish figural surmount has had some chipping to the whiskers touched-in with red pigment - this will require attention to bring the figure back to fine condition. The securing studs for the platform holding the surmount are presently incomplete hence it can be lifted straight-off the case. The gilding to the brass is original and generally in sound albeit very dirty condition but has some noticeable rubbing to high spots.
Both side pieces are generally in good original condition although one has cracking and related small shallow chips to the base part of the ceramic. Otherwise faults are limited to very light gilt wear.
The clock has a pendulum but no winding key.
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