Mechanical Compositions

Musical picture wall clock with quarter hour chime and automaton

    Musical picture wall clock with quarter hour chime and automaton

    Austrian Empire, Vienne


    Metal, wood, steel, brass, gold leaf; oil painting, carpentry and mechanical work, gilding

    80 х 80 cm

    On the musical movement: “Willenbacher und Rzebitschek in Prag”, “1481”, “16940”; on the plate: “Spiell”, “Wechselt”


    The picture in ornately shaped wooden frame with chiseled ornament, covered with leaf-gold, connected with wooden case in which the musical mechanism is placed. An aperture with large winding key for musical movement and a plate with two sliding buttons, engraved hands and inscriptions in German are on the right lateral side. The indoor space, where the excited relatives of the deceased person gathered to read his last will, is depicted in oil on the metal plate. The foreground of the painting are books, casket, boxes and other items. Ring silver dial with black Roman numerals designating hours, minutes’ divisions, two blued steel hands and three apertures for winding the clockwork, strike and chime are seen through the aperture in the upper part of the frame. The clockwork is pendulum with lever escapement, quarter hour chime and three spring motors. Musical movement with pinned cylinder for six tunes, sound comb for 107 tones and spring engine is activated hourly. A melody changing or repeating can be done by sliding buttons on the case right side.

    The painting is the copy of the work by the Austrian artist and graphic of the Biedermeier era, Josef Franz Danhauser (1805-1845), The Testament Opening (Testaments-Eröffnung), painted in oil on wood in 1839.