English George III Chinoiserie style bracket spandrel detail?

Discussion in 'General Clock Discussions' started by Accural, Feb 5, 2020.

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  1. Accural

    Accural Registered User
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    Hello, I am relatively new to posting on the forum. I am hoping someone can help ID the human figure in the spandrel of this George III, bracket clock, in the black Chinoiserie style? The clock was most likely produced for the Spanish market.

    close up bracket clock.jpg
     
  2. Accural

    Accural Registered User
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    Could it be the same guy in this George I bracket clock?

    Screen Shot 2020-02-05 at 7.20.04 PM.png
     
  3. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    It might be the Green Man.


    Ralph
     
  4. Accural

    Accural Registered User
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    I think you may have something there, I searched and found this Spanish sculptural variant which would fit this clock as the clock origin is Spanish I believe. Thank you so much, I will research in that direction some more.

    Green Man - Wikipedia
     
  5. Ralph

    Ralph Registered User
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    Do a search for "green man" on this site. There were a few threads mentioning it.

    Ralph
     
  6. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    he's very common on bracket clocks from the 1720's. I didn't know he had a name....
     
  7. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Dean,

    He's also known as 'Jack in the Green', but I'm not sure he's the subject of these examples.

    Wikipedia says "It is most commonly depicted as a sculpture or other representation of a face surrounded by, or made from, leaves. The Green Man motif has many variations. Branches or vines may sprout from the mouth, nostrils, or other parts of the face and these shoots may bear flowers or fruit."

    I believe both examples are more reminiscent of some early illustrations of Native Americans than of the Green Man, particularly the feather head-dresses.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  8. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    Here's a few examples of the same guy.

    IMG_3735.JPG 22279906_520430688308950_6343292423644152092_n.jpg Dial.JPG IMG_3460.jpg
     
  9. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Dean,

    I believe there are still some lingering superstitions that images of the Green Man should not be displayed indoors, as he's a symbol of the Wild.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  10. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    I don't think it is the green man. I think that the face is a grotesque, a common theme on pocketwatch back cocks and early provincial lantern clocks. The face in spandrels is usually called either old man or woman depending on the type, although some of those appear to be wearing a head dress too. We must remember, I think, that early clock owners were not just incredibly rich but also showing off and showing off their interest in science,and the arts. Perhaps the idea of Indian head dress is right, because illustrated maps of the period would often show images of people in native dress, and across the Americas and much of Africa this would have involved feathered head gear. ( The armies of the so called civilised world of the time also wore feathered headgear but less flamboyant at least for the lower ranks.)
     
  11. DeanT

    DeanT Registered User

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    These spandrels were used from the beginning of the arch dial (around 1715) till i suspect 1740's so i think it is likely your clock is older the GIII but without seeing pictures i'm only guessing.
     
  12. Chris Radano

    Chris Radano Registered User

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    Although the OP concerns English clocks, in my opinion the grotesque head was more widely used as a Baroque feature on the Continent. Especially in German lands, the grotesque head can be found on clocks into the 20th century. I believe the English borrowed the grotesque head from Continental style, and also I agree before George III. The mask head was more English, I assume having to do with the tradition of the performing arts that England is famous for. All this is conjecture on my part, but as I look at clocks and their dates, things I wonder.
     
  13. brian fisher

    brian fisher Registered User
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    I’m sure there is no relationship, but the figure in the first photo looks like mezzo American art such as the Myans or aztec’s would produce.
     
  14. rmarkowitz1_cee4a1

    rmarkowitz1_cee4a1 Registered User
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    Interesting discussion.

    I won't hijack this thread by descending into my typical superfluous blathering about the very long heritage of "grotesques" in European art and architecture. I'll just say, 1 thing as an example: gargoyle.

    However, I will make a few hopefully relevant comments.

    Maybe not so far off the mark? The OP does say that he believed the clock was made for the Spanish (Spanish Colonial??) market. However, not sure how the OP arrived at that conclusion.

    With that feathered headdresss, does somewhat resemble the stereotypical representation of a Native American. Such depictions were quite familiar in the UK and the rest of Europe from at least the 15th century onwards as the "New World" was "discovered" (really stumbled upon then exploited) by Europeans.

    Native Americans even visited Europe. Pocahantas? Some were presented in European Courts. I can't lay my hands on a reference, but I recall reading something about how the tribal chiefs who fought with the French in what we call here the French and Indian War were presented to the French court. Much later, I believe that Buffalo Bill and his show, which included Native Americans, performed in the UK.

    It was my understanding that Native Americans were a source of great fascination with images widely disseminated. Even used commercially, especially for tobacco both here and in Europe. Remember, tobacco was considered one of gifts of the New World to the Old besides corn and potatoes. Here's an 18th Century Scottish trade figure:

    scottish cigar store indian.jpg

    Also can be found in allegorical paintings of the "4 Continents" representing "America":

    allegories-of-the-four-continents-america-francois-dubois.jpg

    Clock dial decoration with similar images are also well known. I've seen Scottish clock dials with spandrel decorations of allegorical representations of the Continents using similar images.

    One thing. In the depictions of Native Americans, their headdresses generally have multiple feathers, not just 3. I propose another possibility.

    A perusal through Loomes' white dial book shows Scottish dials with "The 4 Countries" spandrel decoration. Wales is depicted as a women wearing a headdress with 3 plumes like the spandrel decoration here! Maybe this spandrel is a commentary on Wales?

    Well, I have blathered on superfluously and hijacked the thread after all. My apologies.

    RM


     
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  15. Accural

    Accural Registered User
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    #15 Accural, Feb 9, 2020
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 10, 2020
    You all really helped me zero in on this some more, thank you so much, the convincing evidence of the figures from the four dial examples, for me, solidifies the birth or growth like metaphore via the vine like structures. I was not sure on my clock as it was not as clear as in the four examples provided.

    I found a publication titled "Indian art in European churches", I will provide a link, I think the answers are in this work.

    The clock is signed Madrid, so Spain origin is presumed.

    The clock is english made.

    I have found other clues that the clock is earlier than George III, as once described by a previous seller, thanks for that input.

    I will have the physical clock soon enough and will post more thoughts if anyone is still interested in this thread.

    Let me know what you think about the medieval origins of this figural reference from the info below.


    th research 5.jpg
    Lion disgorging the vine of life, detail, painted tiles, late medieval period, Patio del Yeso, Seville, Spain. This image is remarkably similar to the themes of ancient Indian art which are seen everywhere in Bharhut and Sanchi. The lion disgorges the vine of life which moves all around him and brings forth the blossoms of the natural world. Photo: Benoy K. Behl


    th research 3.jpg
    Composite creature and lion, painted pillar tiles, Patio del Yeso, late medieval period, Seville. The complexity of the composite creature is marvellous. Beings of the terrestrial world, the aquatic world and plants of many kinds are seamlessly woven together to form a living tapestry, as was seen in the early art of the Bharhut stupa railings. Photo: Benoy K. Behl

    Here is the whole text link:
    Indian art in European churches
     
  16. Accural

    Accural Registered User
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    The statements below from the wiki entry for green man may describe the figure the best.

    Some[1][2] speculate that the mythology of the Green Man developed independently in the traditions of separate ancient culturesand evolved into the wide variety of examples found throughout history.

    From the Renaissance onwards, elaborate variations on the Green Man theme, often with animal heads rather than human faces, appear in many media other than carvings (including manuscripts, metalwork, bookplates, and stained glass). They seem to have been used for purely decorative effect rather than reflecting any deeply held belief. A Swiss engraver, Numa Guyot,[9] created a bookplate depicting a Green Man in exquisite detail. It was completed circa 1887.

    In Britain, the image of the Green Man enjoyed a revival in the 19th century, becoming popular with architects during the Gothic revival and the Arts and Crafts era, when it appeared as a decorative motif in and on many buildings, both religious and secular. American architects took up the motif around the same time. The Green Man travelled with the Europeans as they colonized the world. Many variations can be found in Neo-gothic Victorian architecture. He was very popular amongst Australian stonemasons and can be found on many secular and sacred buildings.[citation needed][10]
     
  17. novicetimekeeper

    novicetimekeeper Registered User

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    As I said, I don't think this is the Green man. When you see a face on a backcock like the one illustrated it is a grotesque. The spandrels I agree with the earlier suggestion are likely representative of headgear from the Americas, though feathers in headgear are a worldwide phenomenon.

    Early clocks and watches were for the very rich, and the decoration reflected their interest in Science and the arts. They wanted to be seen as on trend and knowledgeable.
     
  18. Accural

    Accural Registered User
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    You have to admit, these are quite simular when seen togher?

    two.jpg
    th research 5.jpg th research 5.jpg

    Screen Shot 2020-02-05 at 7.20.04 PM.png
     
  19. Accural

    Accural Registered User
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    I now understand and accept the use of the term, grotesque, it appears from the wiki entry for the word grotesque, the English adapted the word, in the 18th century, to describe forms in general that are ugly, distorted, or otherwise. See below.

    Since at least the 18th century (in French and German as well as English), grotesque has come to be used as a general adjective for the strange, mysterious, magnificent, fantastic, hideous, ugly, incongruous, unpleasant, or disgusting, and thus is often used to describe weird shapes and distorted forms such as Halloween masks. In art, performance, and literature, however, grotesque may also refer to something that simultaneously invokes in an audience a feeling of uncomfortable bizarreness as well as sympathetic pity. More specifically, the grotesque forms on Gothic buildings, when not used as drain-spouts, should not be called gargoyles, but rather referred to simply as grotesques, or chimeras.[1]
     

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