Musically Timed: Continental Clock Makers and their Markets

Musically Timed

Continental Clock Makers and their Markets

Throughout the 18th & early 19th centuries, keeping time and making music were increasingly paired attributes for a wide variety of exotic and even fantastic decorative artworks for the homes of the wealthy. Musical picture clocks, animated tableaux, and Black Forest Trumpeter clocks were in fashion. This exhibit features select objects graciously loaned from private collectors interspersed with others from the museum’s Guinness Viewable Storage vault, many on display for the first time at the Morris Museum. Explore how clock makers incorporated music into their works, and households added a wide range of music to their everyday lives.

Almost two years in the process, the conservation of a large & exceptional, c1840, Parisian-made, “Animated, Musical Tableau with Clock”, a living depiction of life in Venice, Italy, has been completed and is now a featured object in this exhibition. Even though it is not known who exactly produced or sold the final product, individual internal components were discovered bearing the marks of their makers: “Henri Marc, Paris, France” on the timepiece and “Cailly, Jne., Mention Honorable, 1839” on the animation motor. Pieces such as this would have been wound-up to be set into motion just before guests might arrive for an evening social, and the host family would patiently wait for their guests to be surprised or even shocked to see that the wall art was ‘moving’, on its own. In this example, over a dozen waltzing figures under the mirrored gazebo dance away the evening; 2 rocking & pitching boats with passengers are in the foreground; a cargo ship and 5 gondolas with passengers pass under the Ponte di Rialto, plus the telling of time & music at will. See the video below to view it in action.

Leadership support for this exhibition is provided by Will and Mary Leland.

Image Caption: Animated, Musical Tableau with Clock, c.1840-50, (3-dimension, mechanical picture depicting Venice, the grand canal & Ponte di Rialto), Overall: attributed to A. Tharin, Paris, France, Timepiece signed “Henri Marc, Paris”, France, Animation motor signed: “Cailly, Jne., Paris”, France, 32″h x 46.5″w x 11″d



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