Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Automaton clock in the form of the Madonna and Child

Maker:
Clockmaker: Nikolaus Schmidt the Elder (German, ca. 1550–1630)
Date:
ca. 1620–25
Culture:
German, Augsburg
Medium:
Case: gilded brass, silver, and ebony veneered on oak; Movement: brass and iron
Dimensions:
Overall: 12 1/2 × 6 1/2 × 4 1/2 in. (31.8 × 16.5 × 11.4 cm)
Classification:
Horology
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Simon Guggenheim, 1929
Accession Number:
29.52.13
Not on view
Automaton clocks are related to the mechanized figures that adorned medieval clock towers, where the Madonna and Child could appear as part of a mechanical theater on feast days. Small domestic automata with religious themes were popular in the seventeenth century and versions of this model, like many of the period, were cast in quantity. Here, the Madonna’s crown functions as a clock dial and her scepter points to the hour.
Marking: Case stamped: [1] EBEN (Augsburg cabinetmakers’ mark for ebony); [2] pinecone (Augsburg city mark)
Movement: maker’s mark of Nikolaus Schmidt the Elder
Mrs. Simon Guggenheim (until 1929; to MMA)
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