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Work Camel clock
Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: rococo
© 1995 RMN / Daniel Arnaudet
18th century: rococo
The Camel Clock has been exhibited in the Salon d'Abondant since 1998. A camel crouching on a four-legged plinth supports the mechanism and face of the clock. The clock face has wings and Rococo curves on either side of it, and above the dial is an Indian holding a parasol. The movement is by the clockmaker Brindeau. The clock is stamped with a C topped by a crown, a hallmark used on all such works in metal between 1747 and 1749, which confirms the date.
Clocks with animal themes
Clocks with animal themes include figures of rhinoceroses, elephants, lions, horses, wild boar, and dragons. The figure of a camel is relatively rare.
The European taste for the exotic
The Indian figure, known as a mahout or elephant-driver, is wearing a hat with feathers, but his costume is inauthentic, not matching the clothes that would have been worn by such a person. He is designed in counterpoint to the camel, facing left to look at the animal, which is turning to the right. Under Louis XV, the taste for the exotic was often expressed by using "Chinese" or "Indian" figures, especially on clocks.
A very imaginative art work in bronze
The design of this clock is particularly imaginative. The camel really seems to be holding up the clockface and trying to raise it. The sense that the animal is beginning to move, and the gesture of the Indian towards it, prevent the composition from being static. Nor do we have the impression that the decoration has been superimposed onto the body of the clock in an artificial way. The entire design is quite successful because all of the elements are in harmony.
BibliographyDaniel Alcouffe, Les bronzes d'ameublement du musée du Louvre, 2003.
Carle Dreyfus, "Un nouveau don d'objets mobiliers du ministère de la Guerre au musée du Louvre", in le Bulletin des musées de France, 1913, pp. 5-6, fig. 1.
Madeleine Jarry, Chinoiserie. Chinese Influence on European Decorative Art 17th and 18th Centuries, Fribourg, 1981, pp. 204-205.
Hans Ottomeyer et Peter Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, volume 1, Munich, 1986, p. 119, fig. 2, 6, 5.
Paris (c. 1750)
H. 55 cm; W. 35 cm
Assigned from the Ministry of War, 1912
Movement by Nicolas Brindeau
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