Lilly's Art

Empire Mantel Clock “The Basilisk”

Empire Kommodenuhr Der Basilisk Franz Weiskopf in Wien

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Vienna, first quarter of the 19th century

signed
“Franz Weiskopf in Wien”
Clockmaker
Franz Weiskopf
Vienna, 24.5.1798 master, † 11.11.1839
Case
engine turned and fire-gilt bronze (ormolu), patinated and fire-gilt bronze (ormolu) base
Dial
enameled
Movement
verge escapement, Viennese grande sonnerie on wire gongs, repeater, turn-off for strike
Height
11 ½ in

The basilisk (Greek: basileus, meaning king) is a mythical creature, a hybrid of dragon, snake or rooster that makes an appearance as a mythical being in numerous legends. People have been fascinated by basilisks since ancient times. In 1212, according to a fable, the well of the home at Schönlaterngasse no. 7 in Vienna’s first district, the so-called “Basilisk House”, was home to a basilisk into which people repeatedly fell prey. A brave young baker lad, upon hearing this, climbed into the well and held up a mirror to the monster, whereupon it exploded in rage after seeing its own hideous face. Today, a fresco and a sculpture of the beast on the wall of the house serve as a reminder of the youth’s courage. The basilisk is omnipresent in Vienna’s cityscape; not only is it represented in the fresco and the sculpture in the Schönlaterngasse; in addition, both the well in the Vienna Stadtpark and the Ankeruhr clock pay tribute to this legend of bygone days. The shape of this clock was hitherto unknown to us. This is a unique, exceptional clock case made by an extraordinary bronzier, which has been embellished with a wonderful surface by a remarkably skilled  gilder.

The movement with verge escapement features the Viennese grande sonnerie typical for that time, which is equipped with a turn-off for the strike and a repetition. The Viennese clockmaker Franz Weiskopf left his signature on the enamel dial.

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