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French Musical Automaton Picture Clock



One of the most amazing timepieces we have ever acquired that offers far more than meets the eye, this incredible work of art blends the beauty of a painting with the mechanical complexities of both a cylinder music box and an automaton. While it is clear to see the integrated clock residing within the arched giltwood and gesso frame, when activated, this painting quite literally comes alive. As the cylinder mechanism within plays its lovely tune, every character in the farrier's shop becomes animated – from the group of farrier's toiling away at the forge and anvil forming the horseshoes, to the wagging of the charming terrier's tale. This musical automaton picture clock is attributed to Xavier Tharin of Paris who was the preeminent creator of this fantastical "moving pictures", especially this particular farrier scene. His process mixed oil painting and hand-colored lithograph images that were layered starting from the back, middle and foreground to craft the complex series of movements throughout the painting. A look inside this particular work reveals the complex mechanism (with the three gongs, pendulum and cylinder components immediately visible) which must run the timepiece, the cylinder musical component plus the multitude of moving elements in the painting...a truly incredible feat considering the technical prowess to create just one of these devices. Musical picture clocks most often are found blending the time and musical components, but to find a specimen that also includes the automaton workings as well is nothing short of extraordinary. French, circa 1880. Measures: 44" wide x 10 1/4" deep x 48 1/2" high.


  • Dimensions
    Height: 48.5 in. (123.19 cm)Width: 44 in. (111.76 cm)Depth: 10.25 in. (26.04 cm)
  • Style
    Other (In the Style Of)
  • Materials and Techniques
  • Place of Origin
  • Period
  • Date of Manufacture
    circa 1880
  • Condition
  • Seller Location
    New Orleans, LA
  • Reference Number
    Seller: 30-90191stDibs: LU891113929102

Shipping & Returns

  • Shipping
    Rates vary by destination and complexity. We recommend this shipping type based on item size, type and fragility.
    Ships From: New Orleans, LA
  • Return Policy

    This item cannot be returned.

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About the Seller
5 / 5
Located in New Orleans, LA
Recognized Seller
These prestigious sellers are industry leaders and represent the highest echelon for item quality and design.
Established in 1912
1stDibs seller since 2010
51 sales on 1stDibs
Typical response time: 7 hours
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