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A SOUTH GERMAN GILT-METAL ORPHEUS CLOCK CASE
A SOUTH GERMAN GILT-METAL ORPHEUS CLOCK CASE

THE RELIEFS AFTER ENGRAVINGS BY VIRGIL SOLIS, CIRCA 1550

Details
A SOUTH GERMAN GILT-METAL ORPHEUS CLOCK CASE
The reliefs after engravings by Virgil Solis, circa 1550
The case cast in high relief chased with the Greek myths of Orpheus and Eurydice and Orpheus as the magician enchanting the natural world, numerous African and European animals depicted amongst trees with a naturalistic background, the small pierced section of a stork, Orpheus depicted playing a violincello and Eurydice emerging from Hades, the top and bottom mouldings of ogee section engraved with acanthus foliage, the base plate with false winding squares to fill empty holes for the missing movement, the astrolabic dial plate with a central engraving of Urania within concentric calendar and zodiac rings, later astrolabe
Provenance
Rothschild inv. no. AR2653.
Literature
P.G. Coole and E. Neumann, The Orpheus Clocks, London, 1972, pp. 42, 43, 91 and 108, figs. 6, 17 and 66, 70 and 71.

Lot Essay

There are only eleven recorded examples that form a group of clocks known as 'The Orpheus Clocks'

PREVIOUSLY KNOWN EXAMPLES:
Fremersdorf I. Wrttembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart.
Fremersdorf II. Sold Sotheby's, London, May 1962 and now in the Wrttembergisches Landesmuseum, Stuttgart.
Munich. Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich.
Chicago. The Adler Planetarium, Chicago.
Luton Hoo. Acquired by Sir Harold Wernher Bt., Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire.
Milwaukee. Flagg collection, on loan to the Milwaukee Public Museum.
London. Morgan bequest to the British Museum (square case).
Georgi. Formerly in the Georgi collection, whereabouts unknown, (square case).
Vienna. The present clock case.
Unnamed, case only. Sold Sotheby's, Zurich, 6 May, 1977, lot 111, formerly at Barnard Castle.
Unnamed. Sold Christie's Geneva, November 12, 1986, lot 335.

In the frieze the arts and sciences are celebrated by the legend of Orpheus, related in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Orpheus, the son of a Muse, was so marvellous a player on the lyre, that he could charm wild beasts and make even trees and rocks move by his music. He married Eurydice, a wood-nymph, who was bitten by a snake and died. The mourning Orpheus descended into Hades to recover her, and by the beauty of his music so moved the goddess Persephone that she consented to release Eurydice, on the condition that he should not look back at his wife as they departed. However as he neared the end of his journey, Orpheus forgot the proviso, looked back, and Eurydice disappeared from him forever. In the relief he is seen playing a 'modern' violincello charming the animals; while another scene portrays Euridice emerging from Hades.

Both scenes are directly derived from engravings published by the Nuremburg artist Virgil Solis (d. 1562) illustrated in The Orpheus Clocks, op. cit., p. 108, figs. 70 and 71.
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