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mechanical clocks

Anonymous French or Italianclock face: 18th century; skull and base: 19th century - clock face: 18th century; skull and base: 19th century

Bagatti Valsecchi Museum

Bagatti Valsecchi Museum

Clocks created in the shape of human skulls as memento mori originated in France or Germany in the 16th century, and had a rather wide distribution in the first half of the 17th century. Originally small, the with clock face hidden in the skull's mouth, the object grew larger until, in the 19th century, the clock was inserted in real human skulls. This object in gilded brass and copper rests without a jaw on two crossed femurs. The clock face, dating to the 18th century and probably Italian, substitutes the original clock face which was slightly smaller. Once fitted with an alarm, a little rod, no longer visible, would pop up out of the top of the head near to the top of the clock face. The movements of the clock--the so-called tapajour produced in France--were accessible through a little door on the nape of the neck. Probably purchased by the brothers Fausto and Giuseppe at the end of the 19th century, the clock is still displayed--as are all other objects in the museum--in its original place, thus contributing to the authentic "time capsule" ambiance.

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Details

  • Title: mechanical clocks
  • Date: clock face: 18th century; skull and base: 19th century - clock face: 18th century; skull and base: 19th century
  • Location: France or Italy, France or Italy
  • goldsmith: Anonymous French or Italian
  • Physical Dimensions: w180 x h185 x d190 mm
  • Bibliography: Luigi Pippa, "n. 761. Orologio a forma di teschio (memento mori)"
  • Provenance: The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum owns all rights to text and images. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited. For all other uses of the images, please contact the museum, thank you.
  • Type: scientific instrument
  • Rights: The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum owns all rights to text, images and videos. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited. For all other uses, please contact the Museum, thank you.

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