Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Automaton clock in the form of an eagle

ca. 1630
German, Augsburg
Case: gilded brass on base of ebony and ebony veneered on fruitwood; Movement: brass and iron
Overall: 13 1/4 × 9 1/8 × 7 5/8 in. (33.7 × 23.2 × 19.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Simon Guggenheim, 1929
Accession Number:
Not on view
European clocks were often, and from the outset, associated with the creation of automata—moving, mechanized figures or contrivances. Seventeenth-century Augsburg clockmakers specialized in small domestic examples. Here, when the clock strikes the hour, the scepter moves, and on the quarter hours the eagle opens and shuts its beak and rolls its eyes. The eagle emblem of the Habsburgs had special meaning for inhabitants of Augsburg, a free city with a direct allegiance to the Habsburg Holy Roman emperors.
Marking: Stamped on the ebony base, at back:
[1] pinecone (Augsburg town mark);
[2] MS conjoined with shield (unidentified cabinetmaker's mark)
Mrs. Simon Guggenheim (until 1929; to MMA)
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