A very rare Louis XV gilt bronze and Chinese ceramic elephant clock of eight dar duration, signed on the white enamel dial Biesta à Paris with fantastic bronze work attributed to Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain. The dial with inner Roman numerals for the hours and outer, Arabic numerals for the minutes, housed in a highly ornate gilt bronze case of floral and scrolling cascades surmounted by a mask head and winged dragon above. The clock supported by a Chinese ceramic elephant. The elephant standing upon a rocaille and scrolled plinth. The movement with verge escapement and bell striking on the hour and half horn with outside count wheel
Paris, date circa 1760
Height 78 cm, width 52 cm, depth 27 cm.
The eminent Parisian Saint-Germain produced a number of "pendule au singe" entirely in bronze such as one in the Kunsthandel, Munich, illustrated in Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, "Vergoldete Bronzen", 1986, p. 123, pi. 2.8.3. Other elephant clocks, such as this example, combined the finest Parisian bronze mounts with original Oriental ceramics. In addition Japanese Kakiemon porcelain elephant models were later copied by leading European porcelain factories such St. Cloud, Meissen and Chelsea and thus enjoyed enduring popularity during the eighteenth century.
Jean Biesta made the movement for this outstanding clock. Of Dutch origin, Biesta is recorded as working in Paris from 1754-1789 and had already made his name before becoming a maitre in France in 1759. In 1757 he presented a clock"a aiguelles concentriques" to the Academie Royale des Sciences and in 1769 produced a watch with independent escapement.