Bailly l'Aîné à Paris, Movement No. 202, Height 540 mm, circa 1750
An important Louis XV elephant mantel clock with half hour strike Case: ormolu and patinated bronze, base decorated with rocailles; battle elephant carrying a large stylized castle with three armed and fighting soldiers on its back. The sides are open-worked with floral ornaments on a background of green silk. Dial: enamel, radial Roman hours, pierced, engraved, gilt hands. Movm.: circular brass full plate movement, signed, 2 barrels, 1 hammer / 1 bell, 8 day-movement, count wheel, silk suspended short pendulum.
An almost identical model by the same hand is depicted and described in: "Old clocks and watches and their makers" by F.J. Britten, London 1977, p. 322, fig. 557.
Provenance: - Collection Stender, Sint Michielsgestel, The Netherlands - Collection Spaans, Hilversum, The Netherlands
Elephants and their meaning: The elephant is said to be wise, strong and chaste, but also unforgiving. It is the heraldic animal of several countries and in the kingdom of Thailand the elephant symbolises wealth and luck. Around 800 the first elephants came from Asia to Europe as presents brought by foreign diplomats. Charlemagne and the Emperor Frederick II both owned elephants, and Louis IX of France brought an elephant back from a crusade. Since the beginning of modern times these pachyderms were being used as spectacular living treasures to illustrate the splendour and political power of European rulers. The journey of the future Emperor Maximilian II and the elephant Soliman from Spain to Vienna made diplomatic history. Unfortunately the great animals usually did not survive very long - the unfamiliar climate and the representative duties often proved too stressful for them. Because of the immense fascination with all things exotic, the images of elephants, lions and rhinos appeared in the arts as early as in the beginning of the 16th century (woodcarving by Albrecht Duerer). In 1667 the Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini created an elephant carrying an obelisk in front of the basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome. The figurative portrayal of exotic animals on clocks and automatons started appearing in Europe in the early 18th century and was particularly popular in France and England.
Joachim Bailly l'Aîné Maître in 1749 is recorded at various adresses in Paris, notably rue de Bourg l'Abbé in 1746, rue Saint-Honoré in 1755, rue Dauphine in 1772 and rue St Denis by 1778. The first recorded elephant clock is mentioned on the 15 December 1757, Madame de Montmartel acquiring an example from the marchand-mercier Lazare Duvaux. Described as "Une pendule en bronze doré d'ormoulu, dont le mouvement à sonnerie, de Moisy, est porté sur un éléphant". The design of the present case is very rare as most elephant clocks have drum cases surmounted by a single oriental figure. A very similar clock, by Bailly l'aîné, is illustrated in F.J. Britten: Old clocks and watches and their makers, 1971, p. 481.
Estimate 40,000 - 55,000 €
Price Realised 57,100 €
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