Blog readers know by now that Loretta and I have serious fascinations with automatons of the past - those gorgeously crafted wind-ups of precious metals and amazing ingenuity. We've shown you a silver swan, eye-rolling elephants, a harpsichord player that belonged to Marie-Antoinette, and even a wriggling, jewel-studded caterpillar. The automaton shown here was not only a beautiful object, but also provided dining table entertainment for its aristocratic owners. Think of it as an automated, gilded hybrid of spin-the-bottle and a drinking game.
This automaton features a golden Diana, goddess of the hunt, riding a stag. Made of cast and chased silver, partially gilded and painted with translucent lacquers, the piece was created in the early 17th c. by the German goldsmith Joachim Fries, and is called a "trinkspiel," or drinking game. Currently in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, it's a rare survivor with a fascinating story that was recently described here on the web site of WBUR, Boston's public radio station. There are many more pictures on the site as well, plus directions for playing that drinking game. Cheers!
Thanks to Andrea Shea, Arts & Culture reporter for WBUR, for sharing this story & video with us via Twitter. Above: Diana and Stag Automaton, marked by Joachim Fries, c. 1610-1620. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.