Liao Pin ed., Clocks and Watches of the Qing Dynasty, From the Collection in the Forbidden City, Beijing, 2002
The concept of the 'Four Noble Professions' probably originated during the Han dynasty, and constitutes what was considered to be an idyllic life. A similar scene may be found in the base section of a Guangzhou clock in the Palace Museum, Beijing, and is dated to the 55th year of the Qianlong period or 1790 (see Liao Pin, op. cit., p.63).
The Daoist figures featured in this clock are auspicious references in the wish for longevity and immortality, and Daoist themes are prevelent in many works of art of the Qing dynasty. Daoist images appear on a number of clocks in the Beijing Palace Museum, such as the static figure of Shoulao, the Star God of Longevity, which can be seen in the base section of a clock in the Palace Museum collection, op. cit., p. 61; and the Eight Immortals as moveable parts of the automaton in the base section of a clock, illustrated in Qinggong Zhongbiao Zhencang, 'Timepieces in the Collection of the Qing Palace', Forbidden City Press, 1995, p. 80. The last cited clock is further embellished with Daoist figures known as the three 'Star Gods': God of Prosperity, God of Happiness and God of Longevity, and was included the exhibition, Tributes from Guandong to the Qing Court, Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1987, illustrated by Yang Boda in the Catalogue, p. 99, no. 83.
A MAGNIFICENT IMPERIAL CHINESE ORMOLU, ENAMEL, IVORY-MOUNTED AND PASTE-SET STRIKING, MUSICAL AND AUTOMATON 'DAOIST IMMORTAL' CLOCK
The base section of rectangular outline with canted angles, on a plinth raised on elaborate ormolu feet cast as openwork acanthus leaves and with pierced ormolu floral apron mounts between them, the front with automaton scene behind glass of painted figures, representing the concept of the 'Four Noble Professions': the scholar reading his book in a pavilion, the wood cutter holding an axe to a tree, the farmer ploughing the field with his hoe and the fisherman with his fishing net, all set in a gilt-metal repoussé landscape also mounted with naturalistically painted trees (see below), framed by red and green paste-set borders, flanked by panels of translucent blue baisse-taille enamel further detailed with gilt and mauve flowers growing delicate green-enamelled leaves, within ormolu beaded frames and further bordered by red paste gems, the sides similarly decorated but also with pale blue flowers and each inset with a glazed rectangular panel within ormolu frame, painted with European pastoral figures, the rear with a silk-backed pierced enamel panel in an interlaced design decorated with green stars;
18th Century, automaton, musical, striking, dial, Clocks, time-telling instruments, enamel, gold ground / ormolu, ivory, China, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Clocks, Marine Chronometers & Barometers
32¾ in. (83 cm.) high x 13¾ in. (35 cm.) wide x 11 in. (28 cm.) deep