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Lot No. 66
Estimate  150,000 - 200,000 €
This is a lot of a former auction!

Master's Mark "NS" (Nicolaus Schmidt the Elder), Augsburg, 170 x 170 x 90 mm

, circa 1580

An important horizontal, two-hand Renaissance table clock of museum quality with original fire-gilding, chased decoration in high relief, 24 hour dial, quarter hour/hour strike, alarm and early minute indication "The Lion Hunt", most probably made for the Spanish court

Case: brass, firegilt, the side panels with chased decoration in high relief, four feet designed as winged putti heads, small bell for the quarter strike, large bell for the hour strike. Dial: brass, firegilt. Movm.: square brass movement, firegilt, maker's mark twice: "NS" within a shield, gut/fusee for going train, 3 barrels for quarter hour/hour strike and alarm, baluster movement pillars, 2 hammers, iron train, locking plate with internal teeth, verge escapement with foliot, iron balance.

The Case
The firegilt brass case is elaborately embellished with finely chased and engraved scroll, leaf and vine motifs on the top, raised cast reliefs to the side and floral and leaf motifs at the bottom. There are circular apertures in the bottom lid to accommodate the bells mounted on the backplate. The lid can be opened with a catch. Next to the winding holes are inscriptions in Spanish language, indicating the functions of the winding arbors: DESPIERTADOR (alarm) - CAMPA (strike) - CUERDA (going) - QUARTOS (quarters). The case is raised on four feet in the shape of winged putto heads a popular motif in the Renaissance. The reliefs on the sides depict a scene from antiquity: the lion hunt and celebration of victory. The lion hunt has a long history. It was regarded to be a King’s sport in ancient Assyria and was a symbol of the King fighting for and protecting his people. The king as lion hunter was a popular motif in royal art symbolising courage and intrepidity. In the 16th century the iconography from antiquity was revived and served as an important source of inspiration for painters craftsmen. Roman sarcophagi with hunting scenes were a model for works of art and a popular theme with the nobility, such as the Medicis. Via drawings and prints classical motifs were spread in Europe The lion hunt on the side of this table clock is based on a relief on a Roman sarcophagus in the Palazzo Rospigliosi in Rome. The dynamic composition is also reminiscent of a relief on a Roman sarcophagus from collection Borghese in the Louvre. The Italian engraver Giovanni Antonio da Brescia created an engraving on the basis of the sarcophagus in the Palazzo Rospigliosi around 1510-1520. This engraving was presumably the source of inspiration for the relief on the present clock. This scene occurs on reliefs of various German clocks and commemorative plaques from the 16th century. This clock must have been popular not only because of its movement and function, but also its beautiful execution commensurate with the contemporary vogue of Renaissance of the 16th century.

The Dial
The firegilt square dial has a prominent chapter ring, set in a firegilt bezel, with Roman quarter hour division, with touch pieces to ascertain the time in the dark, as well as Arabic five minutes divisions. The silver ring has Roman hour twice "I-XII" with half-hour divisions and more towards the centre, Arabic numerals "1-24". The inner gilt brass ring shows Italian hours with four times Arabic numerals "1-6". In the middle is an engraved Arabic gilt-brass alarm disc twice "1-12" having three holes to facilitate setting. The time is indicated by a pair of blued-steel hands, the hour hand having a tail to indicate the alarm time.

The Movement
The spring-driven four-train gilt-brass and iron movement has square plates. The going train has a fusee and verge escapement with foliot. The striking trains first indicate the quarters on a smaller bell, followed by the hours on the larger bell, both governed by numbered steel countwheels. The maker has marked the clock on the backplate twice with his initials "NS" within a shield for Nicolaus Schmidt the Elder.

Nikolaus Schmidt the Elder was born in 1549 in Wiltz in Luxembourg and established his own business in Augsburg in 1576. There is no record of his death; however, we can assume that he died sometime between 1625 and 1629. His son Nikolaus Schmidt the Younger was also a renowned maker. Several of Schmidt’s timekeepers are in important museums all over the world, e.g. the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Historisches Museum in Basle.
Nikolaus Schmidt the Elder is recorded in "Meister der Uhrmacherkunst" by Juergen Abeler, 2nd edition, Wuppertal 2010, p. 503.

Another table clock with the almost identical lion hunting scene was made by Gallus Schellhammer from Nuremberg and is illustrated in Klaus Maurice, "Die deutsche Räderuhr", Volume 2, Munich 1976, fig. 511a.
Case: very good
Dial: very good
Movm.: very good, capable of running

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