Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday Video: An Automaton in the Shape of Diana on Her Chariot, c1610

Friday, July 8, 2016

Isabella reporting,

As you all know, Loretta and I have a weakness for early automatons - those elegant, ingenious clockwork wind-ups made of precious metals and jewels that were the toys of the rich and titled in the 17th-19th centuries. (See more examples here, here, here, and here.)

Made in Augsburg, Germany around 1610, this automaton is particularly fascinating. Not only is it a fantastic clock, with the ancient goddess Diana rolling her eyes, taking aim, and finally shooting her arrow, but her "chariot" can travel under its own power, too. According to the museum's 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...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. The video also captures the mesmerizing movements and sounds the clock makes when wound, revealing the creative and technical mastery behind this ingenious work of art."

I feel sure that someday Loretta or I (or maybe each of us) are going to write that scene when the gilded chariot travels down the dining table....

Automaton Clock in the Form of Diana on her Chariot, maker unknown, c1610, Yale University Art Gallery.

6 comments:

Cynthia Lambert said...

Amazing. The launching arrow is mind blowing. This must have been a hit at parties.

Unknown said...

Well, I'll be a google-eyed goddess!

Christina Spikloser said...

I love that surprise arrow at the end.

Martha said...

This is the best information site EVER! How do you Two Nerdy History Girls do it? I literally jump up and down when I see your blog in my inbox! Thanks a million for your insights and fun!

œuvres d'art originales said...

Oh my, this automaton is absolutely phenomenal. What a brilliant mind it took to conceive of the idea and then design and construct it. Thank you so much for sharing the video. I'm gobsmacked. Cheers, Ardith

Reina M. Williams said...

Stunning! And I agree with Martha, and second her "thanks a million."

 
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