Lilly's Art

Splendid Baroque Mantel Clock “Punchinello on a Swing”


Salzburg/South Germany, second half of the 18th century

carved, polychrome painted, marbleized and gilt lime wood, case interior with mirrors and a painted lozenge pattern, imitating a marble flooring
made of embossed and fire-gilt brass (repoussé work), silver-plated dial ring and subsidiary dials
verge escapement with fusee, vertical escapement wheel, subsidiary dial with fine adjustment, petite sonnerie on bells, repeater, turn-off for strike by subsidiary dial, pendulum in the shape of a carved and polychrome painted Punchinello (“Hanswurst”) on a swing, swinging back and forth
37 ½ in

The humorous, mischievous figure of Punchinello (German “Hans Wurst”, lit. “Hans Sausage”) has been entertaining German-speaking theater audiences since the 16th century. The most influential impersonation was that of Viennese actor Joseph Anton Stranitzky (1676-1726), tenant of the Kärntnertortheater. And it was thanks to this role that his son-in-law Gottfried Prehauser (1699-1769) also found fame – first in Salzburg and South Germany, then in Vienna. Stranitzky’s Hans Wurst (inspired by Arlecchino in the Commedia dell’arte) was known for his unusual hairstyle and wore short, baggy yellow pants, a ruff around his neck, a red jacket and a blue top with a heart and the initials “H W”. All of these characteristics are reflected in the polychrome, wooden pendulum figure featured in this timepiece.
The sumptuous design of this exquisitely carved, marbleized and gilt mantel clock from the latter half of the 18th century suggests that its originally intended destination could have been the residence of a humorously inclined culture lover of the highest rank.

Lit.: F. v. Radler: Der Wienerische Hanswurst, Vienna 1894.

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