Mechanical Compositions

Musical picture wall clock with automaton

    Musical picture wall clock with automaton

    France / Austria, Paris / Vienna

    The 1840-1850s

    Xavier Tharin, Joseph Olbrich

    Wood, metal, steel, brass, glass, gold leaf, enamel, paper, cardboard; carpentry and mechanical work, lithography, gilding

    81 x 99 x 21 cm

    On the dial: “Tharin / Paris”, on right lateral side: “…RICH IN WIEN”, on the stone image: “Ch. Riviere”, “1846”. On the stamp squeeze: “ATELIER D’HORLOGERIE”, “Sandro Lebran”, “OROLOGI ANTICHI LABORATORIO’, “PZ DEL PARLAMENTO, 9”, “00186 ROMA- tel. 67.89.776”, handwritten inscription: “18-915”


    Picture wall clock is a combination of the image and clock, with the being the plot integral part, musical mechanism and layout with automaton. The picture is a painted multi-sided lithograph, in wooden frame with embossed foliage ornament, covered with gold leaf, covered with glass and connected by hooks-clasps with wooden case. The case consists of two halves: the clockwork, controlling and musical movements are mounted inside, the watchmaker’s stamp squeeze “Atelier d'horlogerie Lebran” is on the panel. The mechanism winding hole and activating button are on the right lateral side. Mediterranean landscape with a harbor in the bay with sailboats, square and felucca with passengers on the deck in the foreground is depicted on canvas. A musician is sitting on the stone in the square with mandolin in his hands, next to the pavilion with fountain in the form of twisted glass tube, two girls with water jugs are listening to the music, a dog is lying next to them, a girl is mending a fishing net, barefooted young man in fez is standing near her, baskets, jugs and barge-poles are lying on the ledge. A church with the clock dominates behind the pavilion, a tower with the window in which a monk is reading a book is to the left side. Steep riverbank, houses with red roofs and watchtower with the flag on the hilltop are to the right. White enamel dial is visible in the framed aperture on the lithograph depicting a church; the dial is with black Roman numerals for hours’ designation, two hands and the inscription Tharin / Paris”. The clockwork is with pendulum on silk suspension, with lever escapement and an hour strike on the gong with notch counting wheel. Musical movement is with pinned cylinder, sound comb and spring escapement. When the movements are activated the melody sounds, the ship moves lengthwise the horizon, the felucca with passengers sways on the waves, the flag flutters, the fountain flows, the monk nods his head, the heads and hands of the musician and the girl repairing the net, are moving.