"The Lion and the Lioness", Swiss and English, 118 mm, 1250 g, circa 1790
A very rare and historically interesting gilt-metal, gold and enamel coach-watch with astronomical regulator dial, quarter-striking, music and alarm, made for the Chinese Market "The Lion and the Lioness". The movement attributed to Jaquet-Droz & Leschot, the enamels after engravings by George Stubbs and Thomas Boreman. The gold and enamel panel possibly by Jean Abraham Lissignol. With original fitted chamois lined red leather protecting case with keys.
Case: brass frame with embossed and chased copper panels parcel-gilt in red, green and yellow. The back centred with an oval gold and enamel panel (62 x 48 mm), painted with The Lyon, and Lyoness (sic) after the mezzotint by George Stubbs 1776 , flanked on either side by standing Cranes with a Phoenix bird above holding a ribbon swag, the surround with green gilded tropical leaf foliage, below the centre panel a small plaque enamelled on copper with an opossum, the bezels similarly embossed, gilded and pierced with foliage and each set with seven further oval panels enamelled with matching stylised animals (clockwise) - a kudu, a squirrel, an ape, a leopard, a giraffe, a fox, and a lion, all taken directly from Thomas Boreman's "A description of Three Hundred Animals….", 1774 edition . Dial: white enamel with a concentric ring divided for the minutes and Arabic five minute numerals. Four subsidiary dials within the centre; hours at 12 o'clock with Roman numerals, lunar calendar at 3 o'clock with gilt moon phase quarters and decorative stars, subsidiary seconds at 6 o'clock and 1/5 "seconde foudrayante" at 9 o'clock, centred with a gilt face of the Sun. Blued steel hour and polished gold subsidiary hands with steel alarm pointer. Movm.: Constructed in three tiers with gilt brass plates and bridges. Fusee with chain for the goingtrain with jewelled cylinder escapement and plain balance, going-barrel for the alarm, going arbors for the quarter-striking on a large bell in the back of the case, and music, with pin-drum playing the tune on the hour or at-will with seven hammers on four bells. The skeletonised backplate elaborately pierced and engraved with foliage against a matted ground. Gilt dust ring secured by dog screws.
Marks and signatures: No signature on movement. The largest bell in the musical train signed "Drury London". A number of the parts of the movement are scratched with a capital B. (numbering in this way usually indicates it is one of a pair or small series of virtually identical movements.)
Drury, London: With the watch likely dating between 1785 - 90, this must be James Drury (died 1811), son of John (died 1771). They were a well known family of clockmakers in the first part of the 18th. century and later bell founders. Their name appears on the bells of many Continental pieces, notably those from Daniel de St. Leu, a watchmaker of Genevan origin, many of whose movements are undoubtedly Swiss made. For details of the Drury family see the online article by Brian Loomes .
Notes: In recent years, detailed research into the surviving workshop records and correspondence of Jaquet- Droz & Leschot has revealed a far greater degree of co-operation between the Geneva based firm and the London makers whose names appear on many of the clocks and watches destined for export to China. In his extensive work Le Monde des Automates , published in 1928, Alfred Chapuis, despite his wide-ranging knowledge of Swiss horology, referred to one such clock, certainly of largely Swiss construction, as "in the spirit of Cox's Museum. Shortly afterwards, Harcourt-Smith, in his brief catalogue of a group of clocks housed in the collection of the Peiping Palace Museum, published in 1933 , continued in the same vein. The attribution of all such unsigned objects to English makers was perhaps not surprising on account of the fact that almost none of the clocks and only a few of the watches are signed with a Swiss name before the 1790's. In addition, the notoriety surrounding the career of James Cox, punctuated by bankruptcies, a Museum and a Lottery, has always made him the prime candidate for being the "maker" of many anonymous clocks.
Based upon a substantial body of quite recently published work [6, 7, 8 ], a series of well illustrated catalogues of pieces preserved in the National collections in China, and significantly, a comparative analysis of a considerable number of cases and movements, it is now becoming clear that the collaboration was extensive. Leading this collaboration, both as manufacturers in their own right and suppliers of complete movements and parts, was the firm of Jaquet-Droz and Leschot. They also acted as marchands, financing and supplying a range of objects made by outside workshops for their clients in London. The company was established by Pierre Jaquet-Droz in 1738, initially rising to fame following a successful trip to the Spanish Court in 1758. However it was as a result of the travelling exhibition of the famous androids - The Writer, The Magician and The Draughtsman - in 1774/5 that the business achieved international renown. Various sources indicate that Jaquet-Droz visited London in 1774, apparently to exhibit the androids; what is more certain is the existence of a contract between the firm and James Cox made in 1783. This was relatively short lived due to Cox's failure to honour payments due for goods supplied. Collaboration with English makers and merchants, particularly the firm of Duval & Sons, continued until the early years of the 19th. Century.
For the watch now offered for sale it is difficult to precisely pin-point the makers of the various components. There can be little doubt that the movement and dial originated in the Jaquet-Droz workshops, and the oval gold and enamel panel on the back of the case is assuredly Genevan work. However, the style and execution of the small copper and enamel plaques after Boreman, would tend to indicate that they are of English origin. There is the possibility that they were sent to Switzerland to be fitted to the case, perhaps accompanied by the Stubbs engraving. Alternatively, the case itself could have been made in an English workshop.
1. C. Lennox-Boyd, R. Dixon, T. Clayton, George Stubbs. The Complete Engraved Works, Stipple Publising Limited, 1989, p. 154-5, pl. 46.1. and p. 57, fig. 45.
2. Thomas Boreman, A Description of Three Hundred Animals……. London 1774, 11th. ed., figs 1, 5, 21, 35, 40, 59, 78, 82, and relevant texts.
4. Alfred Chapuis, and Edouard Gelis, Le Monde des Automates Paris: Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 1928.
5. Simon Harcourt-Smith, A Catalogue of Various Clocks, Watches, Automata ... in the Palace Museum..., Peiping, The Palace Museum, 1933.
6. Catherine Pagani, Eastern Magnificence & European Ingenuity, University of Michigan Press, 2001
7. Roger Smith, The Sing-Song Trade Exporting Clocks to China in the Eighteenth Century, Antiquarian-Horology, March 2008, pp. 629-658, and additional publications.
8. Ian White, English Clocks for the Eastern Markets, Antiquarian Horological Society, 2012
10. Sold Christie's South Kensington, 23 June 2004, Collector's Watches, Lot 157. (Watch no. 1454).
11. Sold Antiquorum Geneva, 31 March 2001, Lot 205. The Lord Sandberg Collection (watch no. 1455).
12. Sold Christie's HK 30 May 2011, Lot 1967.
13 Bartolozzi http://collections.britishart.yale.edu/vufind/Record/3660224
14. A La Vielle Russie, The Art of the Goldsmith & the Jeweller, New York, 1968, no.115.
15. Sotheby's, Farouk Sale, Cairo, 1954.
16. Jurgen Abeler, 5000 Jahre Zeitmessung, Wuppertal, 1968, p. 50, pls. 106, 107.
17. G. Brusa, L'Arte Dell' Orlogeria In Europa, Bramante Eds., 1978, p. 433, pls.578/579
Subject and sources for enamels:
George Stubbs (25 August 1724 – 10 July 1806), an English artist, best known for his paintings of horses. In addition Stubbs produced a considerable number of paintings of exotic animals that were largely unknown to the English public including the kangaroo, leopards, rhinoceros and particularly lions, of which there are a number of examples. Sources for these were animals housed in the popular London zoos and private menageries. In the 1760's Stubbs experimented with painting in enamels on copper and on larger panels of porcelain made by Josiah Wedgewood. A version of the subject depicted on the watch case and enamelled by Stubbs and dated 1770 is preserved in the Yale Institute for British Art (accession no. YCBA/lido-TMS- 21177).
The oval enamel is painted on a gold panel fixed by small pins to the metal case. The blue enamel is over a guilloche ground, with the polychrome scene slightly raised and painted on a white ground. The trunk of the tree is not enamelled but engraved.
The subject is taken directly from an engraving of an unknown painting by George Stubbs ( See Lennox- Boyd ). Titled : The Lyon and Lyoness, with engraved inscription G. Stubbs pinxt…….G.T. Stubbs fecit/… 1776….It is mentioned in the text that the Lions are depicted at night, which is interesting in view of the dark blue guilloche background of the enamel. The engraving could have been sent to Geneva for copying although Lennox-Boyd records that there were several Continental dealers offering English prints for sale (op cit p.27).
The technique used appears on a number of watches destined for the Chinese market - painted scenes on raised white ground with translucent guilloche background. Three pieces with oval enamels (all with panels of similar size to the Stubbs) have appeared on the market in recent years, all signed by Kenebel with subjects taken from the work of the English artist William Hamilton (1751-1801). Two are identical - titled Evening - and have sequential numbers on the movements [10,11]. This would indicate they were a pair in the same way as the William Anthony and James Cox watches and objects were identical pairs rather than reversed views of the same subject. The third watch has another version of the scene but executed in the same technique . The Kenebel watches are variously dated to circa 1800 which seems late in view of Hamilton’s death in 1801. The most likely source is not the A. Conte print used by Antiquorum for the Sandberg catalogue, but the Bartollozi (active in England to 1799) engraving  dated to circa 1790. Therefore a date of 1780 -1790 seems more likely. Antiquorum and Christie's attribute the enamels to Lissignol, (Jean Abraham (1749 - 1819), enameller and miniaturist), but there is no definitive evidence given. The same enamel technique appears to have been used on the exceptional "Temple" clock with bird exhibited by La Vieille Russie in 1968, signed Monin . A not dissimilar Temple in the Farouk collection, signed Staplin, also has very similar enamelwork . These pieces certainly came from the workshops of Jaquet-Droz & Leschot.
Thomas Boreman: Little is known of his life, but he was certainly one of the earliest English children's book publishers. His Three Hundred Animals was first published ca.1730. Boreman's earliest works included his 1740 Gigantick Histories, miniature books with illustrations and a list of subscribing readers, including the names of children as well as parents. He followed this two-volume publication with Curiosities in the Tower of London, with illustrations of animals in the Tower Zoo.
The seven pairs of plaques mounted on the bezels, with another below the Stubbs gold plaque, are enamelled on copper with stylised animals directly taken from the book published by Thomas Boreman (several editions ). It seems likely these enamels were made in England, possibly by a factory associated with the Bilston style.
The sister watch "Two Peacocks" is held at the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva. It is illustrated and described in: "Patek Philippe Museum" by Dr. Peter Friess, vol. IV - The Emergence of the Portable Watch, Geneva 2016, page 514f.
The "Sister" Watch
Another example of the same workmanship, size and decorative technique is now in the Musee Patek Philippe. It was formerly in the Wuppertal Museum and illustrated in their exhibition catalogue of 1968 , and subsequently published by Brusa in 1978 . Brusa gives the diameter as 115 mm. No information as to the materials used for the small enamels is given and the illustrations are not sufficiently clear to identify the small plaques on the bezels (No information is given as to the materials used for the small enamels, but the theme of exotic birds is continued). The larger oval enamel is clearly on gold in the same technique as the Stubbs, with the birds on a raised white enamel ground against a red guilloche background. It appears that the trunk of the tree is also in engraved low relief gold. Further research would likely reveal the inspiration for the subjects depicted.
The chased decoration of the bezels of the cases appears to be identical although the birds flanking the central panel are different as is the foliage around them. There is no small oval panel below the larger oval.
The dials are also identical. However, the Patek watch appears to have a later silver ferrule placed into the alarm winding hole. This is signed Lepaute Paris which may indicate that the firm repaired it in the 19th. century, but clearly had nothing to do with the manufacture. A second hole in the dial, possibly also a modification by Lepaute, and also with a similar ferrule is above the alarm release lever. The movements are apparently virtually identical.
The watch is unsigned but it is not known if any parts are numbered or lettered in the same manner as the Stubbs. There seems to be no doubt that they were manufactured at the same time, using the same movements, enamelling technique and case maker.
The Museum watch was exhibited in the Automates & Merveilles series of Exhibitions held in Switzerland in 2012. It is attributed to Jaquet Droz & Leschot and known as "The Birds".
Another watch apparently also from the same workshops, of the same size with identical dial layout and movement was withdrawn from a Bonhams sale in NY in 2014 . There can be no doubt that it was made for the Chinese market, a fact confirmed by the Chinese characters on the dial and the unusual champleve and translucent silver enamel panel on the back depicting Crane birds.
Case: very good, slightly chipped
Dial: very good
Movm.: very good, capable of running
Dial: very good
Movm.: very good, capable of running