Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Automaton clock depicts the goddess Diana on her chariot

Take a look at this antique automaton clock which depicts the goddess Diana on her chariot. The piece -- made around 1610 in Augsburg, Germany -- was recently recovered from storage. The automaton is made from gilt bronze and silver with an enameled dial. The case is ebony and gilt bronze and the movement itself is iron and brass. What a find!

From the video description:

Probably drawing inspiration from contemporary prints, the clock portrays the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diana, on a chariot pulled by two leopards. Precious clocks like this were collaborative enterprises among goldsmiths, sculptors, clockmakers, engravers, and even cabinetmakers. They were important status symbols in European courts, representative of the most cutting-edge technology of their time, and they were often used as diplomatic gifts. This clock—which has been recently restored and is now on view in the European art galleries—is also a table carriage, a lavish form of tabletop entertainment during banquets. This short video unveils the highly sophisticated inner mechanism of the clock, delicate parts that are otherwise hidden from view and are remarkably still in tact.

In the video above, we get a sampling of the movements and sounds the clock makes when wound and set running, including the Diana figure shooting her bow. Rare and valuable devices such as this were often used as entertainment by the elites of time. This one may well have been incorporated into a game played at the dinning table.

On loan from Yale University Art Gallery, the automaton clock is part of The Luxury of Time: European Clocks and Watches exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Via a post on Hyperallergic

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