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Figure Clock “Sultan“ with Moving Eyes and “Snapper”

Uhrenmännchen Sultan mit Augenwender und Schnapper

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Austria/South German, 19th century

Case
carved and polychrome mounted lime wood, hexagonal, marbleized base, case of the movement made of metal
Dial
enameled
Movement
anchor escapement, automatons (moving eyes and “snapper”) coupled with the movement
Height
15 ½ in

This figure clock carved from lime wood and decorated with polychrome paint, shows a splendidly dressed sultan with a pipe on a hexagonal marbleized base. He wears a light shirt, a blue jacket with painted decorations, pantaloons and a turban. In his face there are two automatons operated by the clockwork: the moving eyes, which move the carved eyes, and the „snapper“, which slowly opens and suddenly closes the mouth. The movement itself is mounted in a painted metal case in front of the figure’s chest. It has an anchor escapement and a short pendulum. The enamel dial with Roman numerals has small hands that end in tiny trilobes.

In the late 18th and 19th centuries Orientalism flourished in art and architecture. It was a romanticized idea of Near and Far Eastern cultures. In addition to Egypt and China, the Ottoman Empire in particular was the basis for these oriental fantasies. The fascination for the mighty sultans dominating a huge world empire was probably the inspiration for this technically and artistically elaborate figure clock.

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

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