Table clock

German (Augsburg)
about 1625–50
Unidentified artist

Object Place: Europe, Augsburg, Germany


Overall: 54 x 23.7 x 31.4 cm (21 1/4 x 9 5/16 x 12 3/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Gilded bronze and brass, enameled silver

On View

Alyce Morrissey Gallery (Kunstkammer) (Gallery 143)





Astronomical quarter striking astrolabic and zodiacal table clock. Gilt with astronomical & astrological dials on four sides, of silver with blue, orange & green enamel. Two bells in top. Frame engraved with scrolls & fruit, medallions on two sides of base; vases on two ends under dials, and landscapes on front and back. Musical mechanism added above gallery on top.

This elaborate clock in the form of a building is as much a precious work of art as a complicated scientific instrument. Dials on this side record the time of day and night, days of the week, months, seasons, signs of the zodiac, and the date according to an ancient Roman calendar. The other side measures astronomical time and the position of the sun and moon at various times of day. Additional dials allow one to set an alarm and regulate the striking of hours and quarter hours. Such complex mechanisms were awe-inspiring wonders of their day. The ability to measure the known universe with man-made machines was a potent demonstration of its owner’s knowledge, power, and wealth.


March 12, 1914, Elliot C. Lee [see note 1]; 1922, sold from the Lee estate, through Henry B. Cabot, executor under the will of Elliot C. Lee, to the MFA for $250. (Accession date: April 6, 1922)

[1] In 1914, the piece was loaned to the MFA by Elliot C. Lee.

Credit Line

Lina Frank Hecht Fund