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Figure Clock “Native American” with Moving Eyes and “Snapper”

Uhrenmännchen Amerikanischer Ureinwohner mit Augenwender und Schnapper


Austria/South German, 19th century

carved and polychrome mounted lime wood, octagonal, marbleized base, case of the movement made of metal
anchor escapement, automatons (moving eyes and “snapper”) coupled with the movement
16¼ in

Artfully carved and magnificently painted, this figure clock presents himself in the shape of a native American. On an octagonal, marbleized pedestal, the slender figure rises with a splendid, colourful robe and stylized leaf crown. He carries a spear in his right hand and a bow in her left. A quiver with arrows is on his back. The metal case with enamel dial is attached to the upper part of the body. The movement has an anchor escapement and a short pendulum. It operates the two automatons, the moving eyes and a so-called snapper. The eyes look down and suddenly up, the mouth opens slowly and then snaps shut again.

Figure clocks made of carved wood from the second half of the 18th century up to the first half of the 19th century are extremely rare and therefore particularly sought-after collectibles. The figures, most of which have a polychrome paint, wear the clock in the upper part of the body or in front of it. There were no limits to the imagination in their design: In addition to figurines in Austrian and German costumes, there are also exotic depictions such as „Indians“, Africans, Orientals and Chinese. This wonderful figure clock is marked by the transfigured myth of the „noble savage“ and his harmonious, nature-loving and „simple“ life. An idea that was extremely popular in the 19th century, especially in Romanticism.

cf.: Haverkamp/B. Techen: Von Augenwendern und Schnappautomaten. Die Welt der Uhrenmännchen und Figurenuhren von 1635 bis 1960, Darmstadt 2018, p. 191.

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