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Picture Clock C. L. Hoffmeister “Ferdinandsbrücke in Wien” (“Ferdinand-Bridge in Vienna”)

Bilderuhr C. L. Hoffmeister Ferdinandsbrücke in Wien


Vienna, second quarter of the 19th century

gilt bull’s eye frame
verge escapement, Viennese grande sonnerie on wire gongs, repeater, musical movement with two tunes and automatic release on the hour by “Rzebitschek in Prague, no. 1363 18229”
oil on metal
26 ¼×36 ½ in

This picture clock of museum quality shows a historical view of Ferdinand’s Bridge (present-day Schwedenbrücke) in Vienna. The bridge received its name in honor of the Crown Prince at the time, Prince Ferdinand. The construction year of 1819 is recorded on the central pier in Roman numerals. C. L. Hoffmeister is known for clock paintings with this motif, and the finesse of the painting is further evidence for the mark of the gifted Viennese picture clock painter.

This view was a much-valued motif, since it shows downtown Vienna, life by the river and, most importantly, the city’s landmark, St. Stephen’s Cathedral. On the left, we can see the fortified walls of the Gonzaga Bastion with the new “Rotenturm” gate (1662), through which the imperial carriage is passing, drawn by a team of six white horses. With its long colonnade, the Müllersche Palais of the eccentric Count Deym draws the gaze deeper into the image. Behind it soars the high south tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, into which the dial is integrated. The tower of the Gothic church Maria am Gestade and the twin towers of the Servite Church in Rossau parish also rise above the city. On the other bank of the Danube Canal, the ritzy Café Stierböck impresses with its two-story glazed terrace (where the Sofitel Vienna stands today).

The figural staffage is incredibly detailed and diverse. It shows the citizens of Vienna, from the high nobility to the simple folk, carrying out all kinds of activities. Pleasurable pursuits such as boat trips, leisurely rides, and exchanging the latest talk of the town are depicted alongside the work of the washerwomen, rafters, fishermen, and coachmen. The keen eye will also discover a humorous element – a gallant gentleman stumbling over a rope.

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