Table Clock with Orpheus Frieze

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Probably Nuremberg, Germany
Table Clock with Orpheus Frieze, 1560/80 with later movement
Gilt brass, brass, steel, and blued steel with silver and blue enamel
3 1/2 × 9 3/4 in. (8.89 × 24.77 cm)
Gift of Richard and Erna Flagg M1991.84
Photo credit: John Nienhuis
Currently on View

This drum-shaped clock has a beautiful ornamental frieze that depicts the Greek myth of Orpheus charming the animals. Orpheus' skill with the lyre was said to be so remarkable that the birds and wild beasts would gather to listen and even the rocks and trees would fall under his spell. The power of his music may be seen as a metaphor for the triumph of art over nature, and perhaps over time as well.

Publication History
Milwaukee Art Museum. Building a Masterpiece: Milwaukee Art Museum. New York: Hudson Hill Press, 2001, p. 65, color illus.

Winters, Laurie et al. A Renaissance Treasury: The Flagg Collection of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture. New York: Hudson Hills Press, 1999, p. 30-32, cat. 3, color illus. p. 31.

Coole, P.G. and E. Neumann. The Orpheus Clocks. London: Hutchinson Educational Ltd., 1972, passim.
Exhibition History
A Renaissance Treasury: The Flagg Collection of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Alabama, April 17–June 14, 1988; The Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio, August 1–November 1, 1998; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, December 11, 1998–March 14, 1999; Honolulu Academy of Arts, Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29–June 20, 1999; Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, Tennessee, July 11–September 12, 1999; Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, Standford, California, October 12, 1999–January 2, 2000.


This information is subject to change as the result of ongoing research.