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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

A renaissance gilt-copper quarter striking automaton unicorn table clock, South German, circa 1590
Estimate
100,000150,000
LOT SOLD. 722,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
18

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

A renaissance gilt-copper quarter striking automaton unicorn table clock, South German, circa 1590
Estimate
100,000150,000
LOT SOLD. 722,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Treasures Including Selected Works from the Collections of the Dukes of Northumberland

|
London

A renaissance gilt-copper quarter striking automaton unicorn table clock, South German, circa 1590
the three train oval steel movement with verge and balance escapement, brass fusees and lipped barrels, striking on two bells, the ogee moulded plinth repousee and chased with strapwork and flowers and with shutters concealing the winding squares, the naturalistically modelled top inset with four dials for hours strike recording, quarters strike recording, regulation and time, chapter ring replaced and now with two hands, the whole surmounted by a well cast and chased figure of a unicorn with moving eyes connected to the escapement and opening his lower jaw with the hour striking,
37cm. 14½in. high
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Literature

This clock is illustrated and described in Klaus Maurice, Die Deutsche Räderuhr, p.49, No.295

Catalogue Note

The unicorn is a legendary animal that throughout the mediaeval and renaissance periods was believed to a real creature originating in India. Portrayed in the form of a horse or horse/goat with a long spiral horn, the unicorn was a strong animal, secretive in nature and extremely difficult to capture. Renowned as a symbol of purity and chastity, it was believed that only a virgin could tame a unicorn. This exquisite clock depicts the unicorn in fine detail and, whilst first appearing to be almost pure horse with a horn, the cloven hooves allude to the goat element of the story.

Some of the finest clocks of the late 16th Century were produced in South Germany, centred around Augsburg. This clock, though unsigned and without a town mark, is of fine quality and has an oval base with decoration typical of the area and period. During the last quarter of the 16th Century a fashion developed for novelty clocks incorporating automaton figures of exotic or mythological creatures such as camels, bears, lions, eagles and gryphons. The present clock appears to be the only recorded representation of a unicorn from that period and is a particularly elegant and fine example.

Treasures Including Selected Works from the Collections of the Dukes of Northumberland

|
London