Japonisme ormolu and cloisonné enamel clock set

By Japy Freres (French, founded 1806)


This beautiful ormolu clock set is designed in a French Japanese (‘Japonisme’) style, and features charming mounted sculptures of mythical beasts.


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The clock set is comprised of a central clock and two flanking candelabra, all designed in a fanciful Japonisme style. Japonisme was a French term, used to describe the craze for Japanese art and design in Europe in the 19th Century. This fashion was kickstarted by resumed trade with Japan in the 1850s, the country having been closed to the West since c.1600.

The clock is set on a rectangular base placed on four feet, the front two of which are cast as elephant heads. The base is finely decorated with shaped openwork panels and relief work, depicting flowering prunus (cherry blossom) branches. The base supports a pagoda form clock case, which is decorated with three-dimensional cloud forms. The case front features prunus tree motifs, with a cloisonné enamel plaque between them, depicting green, blue, red, pink and purple flowers and foliage against a yellow ground. The case is mounted with a circular dial featuring gilt Japanese Kanji Numerals and a central yellow cloisonné enamel band, decorated with green and blue foliage. The dial is contained within a glass and ormolu case, with a beaded edge. Above, the shoulders of the clock case are topped by stylised, butterfly-like sculptures. These are positioned either side of an openwork domed lid, which is surmounted by a shaped finial.

Flanking the clock are a pair of candelabra. These stand on square bases, which are decorated with prunus branches and scrolling openwork panels. The candelabra bodies are vase-shaped, with short feet, bulbous lower bodies, and tall necks with flared mouths. The bodies are ornamented with relief prunus trees, and they are mounted with sculptures of mythical beasts. Each candelabrum’s vase-form body is topped by five lights, one directly above a central stem, and four curling up around it. In each, four lights are cast as prunus branches, which terminate in wide drip-pans and urn-shaped capitals. The central candle-holder of each candelabrum is topped by a geometric finial, with a ball tip.

The movement of the clock set is stamped ‘Japy Freres & Cie/ Med D’ Honneur’ and ‘HR’. Japy Freres was a prestigious horology firm, based in Beaucourt in France. Founded by Frédéric Japy, the company later became the ‘Japy Freres’ (Japy ‘brothers’) when it was inherited by Frédéric’s three sons, Pierre, Fritz and Louis. The firm flourished between 1850-1930, producing fine clocks and watches, which won multiple awards at the International Exhibitions of the period.

Clock: Height 40cm, width 26cm, depth 18cm
Candelabra: Height 46cm, width 20cm, depth 20cm


Artist / Maker
By Japy Freres (French, founded 1806)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
19th Century
Japanese Interest, Japonisme
Enamel - Cloisonné, Ormolu (Gilt Bronze)
Brown, Gold, Multi-coloured


40 cm / 15.7 inches
26 cm / 10.2 inches
18 cm / 7.1 inches


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