This incredible work of art blends the beauty of a painting with the mechanical complexities of both a cylinder music box and an automaton. A clock is integrated within the arched giltwood and gesso frame, and, when activated, this painting quite literally comes alive. As the cylinder mechanism within plays its lovely tune, every character in the farrier's shop becomes animated – from the group of farriers toiling away at the forge and anvil forming the horseshoes, to the wagging of the charming terrier's tale.
This musical automaton picture clock is attributed to Xavier Tharin of Paris who was the preeminent creator of these fantastical "moving pictures", especially this particular scene. His process mixed oil painting and hand-colored lithograph images that were layered starting from the back and into the middle and foreground to craft the complex series of movements throughout the painting.
A look inside this particular work reveals the complex mechanism (with the three gongs, pendulum and cylinder components immediately visible) which run the timepiece, the cylinder musical component, plus the multitude of moving elements in the painting -- a truly incredible feat considering the technical prowess to create just one of these devices. Musical picture clocks most often blend only time and musical components, but to find a specimen that also includes the automaton workings as well is nothing short of extraordinary.
French, circa 1880
44" wide x 10 1/4" deep x 48 1/2" highClick here to view a video of this item.