Mechanical Compositions

Musical picture wall clock with automaton

    Musical picture wall clock with automaton

    France, Paris

    Circa 1870

    Xavier Tharin, Frères Nicole

    Wood, metal, fabric, glass, gold leaf, brass; lithography, painting, gold plating, mechanical and carpentry work

    59 x 76 x 22 cm

    On the dial: “H. M. Walton, Paris”; on the movement ‘5041”, "Nicole à Genève"; on the book in the picture right corner: "Ch. Riviere d'après Decamps, 1844". On the clock mounting plate “H. M. Waltons à Paris”


    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, painted multi-sided lithograph, in wooden frame with embossed ornament, covered with leaf, closed with glass and connected by hooks-clasps to wooden case, which is comprised of two pieces. Clockwork mechanism, automaton control mechanism and musical movement are mounted in it. Winding hole for winding the mechanisms, two levers for switching them on and changing melodies are on the case bottom side. The painting features an interior with three anthropomorphic monkeys: a teacher of music and two violinists in front of music stand with notes on brown drapery background. Chest of drawers with table clock and vases on it stands near the rear wall. The clock enamel dial is with Roman numerals for hours’ designation, minute’s divisions and two black hands. The image of pendulum and three weights is beneath the dial. A book with the inscription: "Ch. Riviere d'après Decamps, 1844" is on the tiled floor in the right corner. The clock mechanism is pendulum, with an hour strike, two spring motors, and musical movement with pinned cylinder for four tunes, sound comb and spring motor. One of four melodies sounds every hour; the automaton mechanism controlling ten movements turns on: monkey-gentleman nods its head, taps the foot, bows and fingering the instrument strings, monkey-lady bows, music teacher conducts and opens the mouth as if singing.