Monday, May 20, 2013

Precious Time: The “Kylin” Clock, Mid-18th Century

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

The "Kylin" Clock
Mid Eighteenth Century Case with
Mid Seventeenth Century Artifacts
Ormolu, Porcelain
Purchased by King George IV, 1820
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth II

Gilt bronze fruit, berries, stems, leaves and lotus flowers comprise the case of this highly ornamental clock which was initially constructed in the mid-Eighteenth Century by an unknown French clockmaker. This ornate construct was created to showcase Asian artifacts which include a pair of what is described as Chinese “Lions,” but which to me seem more likely to be Foo Dogs. These porcelain figures date to the mid-Seventeenth Century, and were incorrectly thought to be hybrid creatures of Chinese mythology called “Kylin,” hence the name of the clock. 

Other Seventeenth Century porcelain pieces included in the clock’s case are parts of a blue and white teapot, a Chinese bowl which has been inverted to accommodate the face of the clock and a Japanese Arita group of two boys which stand just above the dial.

King George IV purchased this clock in 1820 to add to his growing collection in his seaside monstrosity (which I say with affection and admiration)  at Brighton. As was often the case with George IV, he had the clock gutted, removing its works and replacing them with an updated French movement which ran for eight days between windings. In 1847, the clock was removed from the Brighton Pavilion and brought to the Pavilion Room at Buckingham Palace where it sits to this day on the mantle overlooking Royals as they eat their breakfast.

Recently, The Royal Collection, has released photos of this exceptional timepiece in its permanent home.

All Above Images:
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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