Musical table orrery clock
Musical table orrery clock
Wood (amboyna), bronze, steel, brass, glass; casting, gilding, silvering, engraving, mechanical work
Height 78 cm
On the mounting plate: “GAV”; on the musical movement: “Fecit Raingo Rue St. Sébastien No. 46 à Paris Jouer Fixer”, on the dial: “RAINDO A PARIS” and week days in French; on the calendar scale - months in French
The Neo-classical case in the form of a Doric rotunda, the square musical box base on ormolu bun feet with rosette and lyre mounted on the facade, the right side with winding hole for the musical movement with play adjustment levers to the left, Jouer & Fixer engraved on a brass plaque with signature Fecit Raingo Rue St. Sébastien No. 46 à Paris, the musical movement with pinned barrel with eighty teeth secured in groups of two, the circular orrery base banded by a flowered ribbon trellis supporting four tapered columns with flower-wreathed Taurus mouldings, corresponding decoration on the bezel of the gilt dial, the latter signed RAINGO A PARIS, with painted Roman chapters and inner concentric day of week ring with corresponding deity, indicated by a double arrow-head steel hand, the time indicated with Breguet style hands. The movement with twin spring barrels, dead beat escapement with gridiron pendulum suspended directly behind the dial, count wheel strike on bell on the rear plate, the cornice above surmounted by a band of gilt-metal Zodiac bas-relief tablets encircling the mechanical tellurium with indirect drive from the clock movement or with optional manual facility via a pineapple crank, the tellurium rotating anti-clockwise and demonstrating the motions of the earth and moon in relation to the sun, with horizontal bissextile dial with independent four-year-going barrel wound through the silvered dial, the tellurium fulfilling the following functions: days of the month and month of the year, position of the sun in the Ecliptic, the bissextile (leap year) cycle, the age and phase of the moon, the sidereal period of the moon, solar time, the planets later. Orrery crank key is in the set.
The orrery is a mechanical instrument for portraying the relative motions of the Sun, Moon and Earth, sometimes with the planets also. They are shown in a heliocentric system. The first known English example was made by George Graham (1675-1751) circa 1705 and was jointly signed by him and by Thomas Tompion (1639-1713). The instrument maker John Rowley (1668-1728) subsequently copied Graham's machine for Prince Eugene of Savoy. Rowley was then commissioned to make another copy for his patron, Charles Boyle, fourth Earl of Orrery (1674-1731). It is believed that the essayist Sir Richard Steele suggested that it should thereafter be called an orrery, in honour of the Earl. Four examples of Rowley's orreries are in the Old Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
The orrery was a highly regarded instrument. Joseph Wright (1734-1797) painted A Philosopher lecturing on the Orrery in 1766. The painting was influenced greatly by Wright's friends in the 'Lunar Society', a group of philosophers, engineers and scientists who met monthly to perform experiments and discuss the latest developments in science and natural philosophy. In particular, the painting shows the influence of the clockmaker John Whitehurst of Derby (1713-1788).