An extraordinarily magnificent bejeweled musical elephant automated clock of a rare and impressive scale, George III Paste-Set ormoulu musical automation clock circa 1780 signed by Peter Torckler, which was probably acquired by Nassir al Din Shah Qajar, the Shah of Persia in London in the 1890s, got sold to an affluent Asian collector for impressive $2,491,610 on 4th July, as part of Sotheby’s Treasures, Princely Taste sale in London. The sale actually saw collectors and art lovers from across the globe compete vigorously for exceptional works of art and furniture, with many of the works pursued to prices higher than pre-sale estimates. And, one such work was the Shah of Persia’s articulated ormolu elephant clock automation clock, which fetched a price higher than its pre-sale estimate of $1,547,997, making it quite apparent that rare and bejeweled art pieces always strikes a chord with the collectors of fine art and art lovers, alike.
Probably acquired by Nassir al Din Shah of Persia, also known as a talented painter, a poet, an expert in pen and ink drawing, and one of the first photographers in Persia and a patron of that art, the magnificent jewel studded creation sports an Asian elephant supporting a canopied howdah enclosing a figure of Atlas supporting an armillary sphere. The pagoda is further surmounted by a foliate and painted finial supporting a bejeweled counter-rotating ‘Catherine wheel topped with a pineapple.
And, the elephant is finely chased in two sections, enclosing one movement. The elephant stands upon a finely worked rockwork base, mounted with flowers and rosette form covers enclose the winding apertures. The elephant actually demonstrates four mechanical movements every three house, which run simultaneously in addition to the spinning of the jeweled section on the finial, the movement of the wheels, the twisting of the glass ‘waterfall’ rods and windmills on the base. Further, the three plugged holes to the elephant’s head possibly suggest that there was originally a figure seated at this point.
Historically, this golden elephant clock typifies the inventive and intriguing objects produced by skilled British craftsmen in London in the second half of the 18th century and would have originally been destined for the Chinese market. It was promoted by East India Company, as such objects played a crucial role I lessening the trade deficit between Britain and China, and were the articles of tribute to the Chinese society.