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Astronomical Compendium

Astronomical Compendium

Artist: Unknown

Date: 16th century
Medium: Gilded Bronze
Dimensions:
HEIGHT: 2 7/8 x 3 15/16 in. (7.3 x 10 cm)
Credit Line: Bequest of John Ringling, 1936
Object number: SN7064
On View: Art Museum Gallery 03
About this ObjectAn astronomical compendium is an instrument used for telling time and performing different astronomical calculations. Most compendia have at least one form of sundial, and often a compass, tables of latitude, and a perpetual calendar. Popular in Germany and France in the 16th century, they were usually constructed as extravagantly as possible, with gilt decoration and engraving. The French bronze-gilt drum form case (SN7078) is engraved with a stylized arabesque ornament, the whole raised on three peg feet. This was originally a clock case, the small door being used to access the fusee (pulley) for winding, and was later converted by the addition of a sundial. The German compendium (SN7064) is enclosed within a cast pierced frieze of winged female forms and stylized foliage, and like the French piece, it was converted with a sundial, the clock mechanism removed. The German tower clock (SN7067) runs the typically German stackfreed, and has a later horizontal silver dial enameled and engraved with a floral and foliate band within a chapter ring of Roman numerals.

Provenance
Emile Gavet, Paris (cat. #636, ill.), approximately 1870s-1880s; sold to Mr. and Mrs. William K. and Alva Erskine Smith Vanderbilt, Gothic Room, Marble House, Newport, Rhode Island, 1889-1982; transfered to Mrs. Alva Erskine Smith Vanderbilt Belmont in divorce; purchased by John Ringling, 1928; bequest to The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, 1936
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