Anonymous Italian, Lombard workshop16th-17th century

Sforzesco Castle

Sforzesco Castle
Milan, Italy

Automata, already recorded in
classical Greece, were kinetic devices that mimicked animal or human appearance
and movements. This automata depicts a devil enchained whose internal mechanism
enables him to move independently in order to frighten visitors. The
mechanical function is at the back and is activated by a handle, which enables
the head to turn to the right and to the left, the eyes to rotate, and the
mouth to open wide, showing his tongue and emitting a strange noise. The torso, whose extreme naturalism recalls
Christ at the Column by Bramante (today
in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan), may have been created reusing a Lombard
wooden statue of the early sixteenth century. The automata was one of the key pieces of the most famous Wunderkammer in Milan, created by
Manfredo Settala.


  • Title: Automata
  • Creator: Anonymous Italian, Lombard workshop
  • Date Created: 16th-17th century
  • Location: Museo dei Mobili e delle Sculture lignee, Castello Sforzesco, Milan, Italy
  • Location Created: Italy, Lombard workshop
  • Provenance: Purchased at an antiques market,1982
  • Type: Wooden sculpture
  • Rights: Comune di Milano - Civiche Raccolte Artistiche, Castello Sforzesco, Milano
  • External Link: https://museodeimobili.milanocastello.it/
  • Medium: Cherry wood, cork, iron
  • Art Form: Painting and sculpting
  • Original title: Automa

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