Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Recently, on the Net, I tried to find a photo or description or mention of one old mechanical toy/automation, 18th or 19th century, in shape of a big framed picture on a wall. Everyone knows what the wondrous devices look like, 18th or 19th century or earlier and more ancient, but I search for something like the one which I saw with my own eyes in the 1960s Polish movie
and then I saw anything of the kind never again (neither on TV, nor in another movie, nor in a magazine nor on the Net) which is strange, because the curio was amazingly nice. Perhaps it was a sort of a musical box, only made in shape of a framed canvas. In the picture we could see a young piano-player and his listeners and home pets around. When the mechanism is on, all the flat figures in the picture begin moving and the sweet music begin to sound: the piano-player begins moving his hands, the listeners move their heads rhythmically and the dog moves its little tail. A moving picture, yet not a movie or animation, but an old mechanical picture/toy. I can’t rmember exactly the human personages of the picture, but they obviously were young, perhaps children. And I don’t know right English words which I should use searching for the curio. According to my latest search, it may be called “antique musical picture frame” and can be found in a museum only, but I am not sure and still can’t find an image or even a mention. As I think, the curio was taken for filming from one of museums of Poland. In 18th and 19th centuries or even earlier, the curios could be seen in palaces, and now they can be seen in museums, the cabinets of curiosities or Wunderkammern, of course. I have asked some online friends, artists and antiquarians, but they know nothing of it. I searched on Wikipedia and Yahoo Answers, but in vain. The fact that an information/image cannot be found on Wikipedia seems unnatural to me.
While I searched for that, one more question about another curio aroused at mine, and I don’t see a reason why not to share it on the blog. When watching a TV documentary about Rudolf II of Austria (1552–1612) [--Holy Roman Emperor as Rudolf II (1576–1612), King of Hungary and Croatia, as Rudolf (1572–1608), King of Bohemia as Rudolf II (1575–1608/1611) and Archduke of Austria as Rudolf V (1576–1608), a member of the House of Habsburg--] I learnt about a picture which can be called two-side painting, but I am not sure about right English words to begin searching. Oil on wood, but the wood is not a piece of flat bar, but thinnest laths. What I saw on TV was the king’s portrait painted on the thinnest laths first, then the laths were turned round, and other picture was painted, heads of the king’s two predecessors. Then the painting is framed (in a very special way) and placed on the wall. As you approach to the picture from one side, you can see the head of the king. As you approach from the opposite side, you can see the other picture, the heads of the predecessors. As it was told, the technique was known in the antiquity. I tried to find out about the technique, but in vain again. And I have not the image. No images, no online information. Below, there is the portrait of King Rudolf II, painted as Vertumnus, Roman God of the seasons, which the king loved, but the picture’s technique is quite traditional--

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