Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, July 17, 2021

17th Century Automaton



The Goddess Diana - 17th c. automaton

Through the years since my husband's death, I have continued to receive the Yale Alumni Magazine. I enjoy seeing what's happening on the campus I once knew so well, but more importantly, every once in a while there's a gem of an article that truly resonates with my interests. The latest issue (July/August 2021) has just such an article, "Goddess in Action," and I'd like to share it with you. This remarkable automaton was the recent gift of Florence Maconaughy in honor of her late husband, Laird Shields Goldsborough, Class of 1924. 

Diana and her chariot—forged in Germany, most likely Augsberg, in the early seventeenth century—are made primarily from gilt bronze, silver, and ebony. The intricacy of the clockwork mechanism that animates it is seemingly a lost art; even more amazing, it still operates just as it did when first created.

Below are excerpts from the article in Yale's alumni magazine:

In the case of the Diana clock, which was made around 1610, each side of the goddess's throne is embedded with a clock dial decorated with floral and aviary motifs in colored enamel. Inside the throne is a spring-driven set of wheels that guides the hands of the dials on either side—a 12-hour cycle on one side and a 24-hour cycle on the other. The chariot underneath the throne contains two additional series of gears that enable the striking of bells on the quarter hour, as well as much of the automaton' s locomotion.

Once the automaton is activated, Diana's eyes rotate, the chariot moves forward in a slow and steady pace, the leopards leap up and down as their heads oscillate, and the monkey nods its head and lifts its right arm. Moments before the chariot stops, a bird perched on the back of the chariot flaps its wings, and Diana's eyes stop moving. When the chariot comes to a halt, the goddess releases an arrow with her right middle finger.

Grace note: This remarkable automaton is currently on exhibit at the Yale Art Gallery and will be included in the gallery's forthcoming exhibition of historical scientific instruments from Yale's collection.

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 This week's Photo Gallery

 In keeping with the artwork above, two particularly fine photos . . .


Eagle over El Paso, August 2019

"Moonrise" - posted to Facebook by Sheri Cobb South

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Please don't forget the three lighthearted novellas of the Matthew Wolfe series, perfect for summer reading.


Coming soon: The Secrets of Stonebridge Castle
(a Regency Gothic)


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For Blair's updated Facebook Author Page, click here. 

  For Blair's website, click here.

 Thanks for stopping by,

Grace/Blair Bancroft


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