Mechanical tableau

Nicolas Spayement (died before 1751), painter
Movement by Desmares, “machinist” in Versailles and Paris
1739
Oil on sheet iron; enameled dials; carved and gilt wood frame
Gift of Jules Audéoud, 1885
Inv. 3131
© Les Arts Décoratifs

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This mechanical tableau came from the cabinet of mechanics and physics of Joseph Bonnier de la Mosson (1702-1744). Bonnier was the treasurer-general of the province of Languedoc, and a highly distinguished Parisian collector who converted a room in his mansion on Rue Saint Dominique into a science gallery that he opened for scholars and amateurs. The frame of this tableau contains three dials showing the time, the day, the days of the week and the months. Some sixty figures are activated by a mechanism of rods, gears and levers in the lower part of the tableau.

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