From the late Middle Ages to the Baroque, Habsburg emperors and archdukes collected exotic and uncommon materials, to which they often ascribed magical powers, such as precious stones, ostrich eggs, coral and shark’s teeth, which were considered to be dragon’s tongues. From these natural products, artists created virtuoso works of art.
The history of Barrel organs’ creation extends back over several hundred years. Historians from different countries are still arguing about where and how this mechanism and its design was invented.
Sublime Dreams of Leaving Machines Part VI. An over 200-year-old timepiece-automaton adorned with golden mechanical birds, which still sing to this day.
Sublime Dreams of Living Machines. Part V. Made by Hans Schlottheim in German, in about 1585, the central figure of the galleon is the Holy Roman Emperor, surrounded by seven noblemen. When the clockwork mechanisms were wound, the ship moved forward over the table and they bowed in front of the Emperor. Miniature figures of the trumpeters and drummers on the deck moved in time to music that was generated by an internal organ and drum. The front canon also fired, lighting a fuse which in turn fired the canons on each side of the ship. The display finished in a cloud of smoke and must have been breathtaking to a 16th-century audience.
Sublime Dreams of Living Machines. Part IV. One of the most interesting clocks, as well as one of the most representative of clockmaking during the transition from the late 16th to the early 17th century, is this rather spectacular automaton of Diana On Her Chariot, as it’s called.
Sublime Dreams of Living Machines. Part III. The Silver Swan is an automaton dating from the 18th Century and is housed in the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Teesdale, County Durham, England.
Sublime Dreams of Living Machines. Part II. “Without the duck of Vaucanson, there would be nothing to remind us of the glory of France.” – VOLTAIRE
Sublime Dreams of Living Machines. Part I. Not so long ago, a short video of a truly uncanny dulcimer-playing wind-up automaton made for Marie Antoinette in 1784 appeared online. The queen was no stranger to extravagance, we know, but why this machine, this wonderful human-like machine, which must have taxed the greatest artisans and mechanics of her time? What was its appeal?