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19th-Century Musical Picture Clock

  • This fascinating musical picture clock is a masterpiece of horological design
  • The painted scene hides a complex mechanism that includes a three-train clock movement
  • Two musical cylinders are also included, which together play sixteen different songs
  • In terms of both mechanics and aesthetics, it is one-of-a-kind in every aspect
  • Get complete item description here
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Item No. 30-7480

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This extraordinary one-of-a-kind work of art brings together horological skill, complex musical movements and the tradition of landscape painting to create a truly awe-inspiring musical masterpiece. Known as a musical picture clock, the work hides its intricate mechanism behind an expertly rendered oil painting. The effect is that the charming scene comes to life - the clock tower tells accurate time, while the figures in the lakefront scene match the joviality of the music. Almost. . .
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This extraordinary one-of-a-kind work of art brings together horological skill, complex musical movements and the tradition of landscape painting to create a truly awe-inspiring musical masterpiece. Known as a musical picture clock, the work hides its intricate mechanism behind an expertly rendered oil painting. The effect is that the charming scene comes to life - the clock tower tells accurate time, while the figures in the lakefront scene match the joviality of the music. Almost certainly among the most complicated examples of its kind, this exceptional piece is perhaps the greatest musical antique on the market today.

While the painted scene is very good quality, the spectacular aesthetics of the work is far surpassed by its mechanical complexity. Within the body of the picture frame is a three-train clock movement, as well as two highly intricate musical movements. The larger of the two movements boasts a 13-inch cylinder and plays twelve different songs, two at each turn. The smaller, with its 8-inch cylinder, plays four different tunes. Each is wound from the bottom of the case through elongated key shafts.

Excluding the musical movements, there are seven separate clockwork motors to be wound, as a testament to the mechanisms unmatched complexity. And, of the seven striking movements, a remarkable six have double gongs for a total of 13 gongs - a remarkable number for a musical picture clock.

Other examples of such horological masterworks are held in museums collections around the world, including four spectacular examples at the Uhrenmuseum (Clock Museum) in Vienna and one at the Musée d'Histoire de Berne. A comparison of the movements, however, reveals that the present piece is in a class all its own. Even the finest examples lack the complicated movements and complexity of this mechanism, and most contain just one musical movement rather than two. 

The incredible array of songs it contains is further testament to its superiority. Among the sixteen tunes played are "God Save the Queen," "British Grenadier's March," "Ronde de a Bijou Perdu," "Valse à la Gazzra Ladra," "Le Ranz des Vaches," "La Marseille," and an air from Il Trovatore. 

In terms of both mechanics and aesthetics, it is one-of-a-kind in every aspect and a true masterpiece of design.

Circa 1870

Painting: 28 5/8" high x 36 1/8" wide
Frame: 38 3/4" high x 46 1/4" wide x 9 1/4" deep

References:The Musical Clock: Musical and Automaton Clocks and Watches, 1995, by Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume, p. 155 (illustrated)
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19th-Century Musical Picture Clock
Period: 19th Century
Type: Musical & Automaton
Depth: 9.25 Inches
Width: 46.25 Inches
Height: 38.75 Inches
Canvas Width: 36 1/8 Inches
Canvas Height: 28 5/8 Inches
Buy with Confidence

At M.S. Rau, we are committed to building a long-term, rewarding relationship with each and every client. That’s why your purchase is backed by our 125% guarantee.

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