Rare Gothic Automaton Clock Depicting a Mystic, probably by Theroude, c. 1850, the figure with carved and painted wood head, glass eyes, articulated jaw, brass bedplate carrying multiple movements from ten levers, including lateral and vertical motions of the head and arms, the right arm also articulated at the elbow and wrist, carved wood legs articulated at the hips, knees and ankles, four-gear train with rack-and-pinion concealed in the rocks behind him, in fantastical papier-mache grotto landscape with steps to natural arch, urn and pitcher beside animated glass-twist waterfall, ledge with crucifix and books, roots, foliage and cavernous ceiling supported by twisted branches, on oval ebonized base with beaded brass lips and 3 1/2-inch Roman enamel dial with Breguet hands, the brass going-barrel movement driving removable pinned wood barrel, fourteen cams, pulley and gong with two hammers, independent large four-air cylinder movement no. 9381, and eight-day clock with platform escapement and countwheel, strike on bell, stamped Boviller, Paris, ht. 32 1/2 in., (worm damage on base, unclothed and in need of restoration).
Note: In working order, the sequence would include the figure rising from a seated to a standing position, and then kneeling before the crucifix as he perfoms a mea culpa to the sound of gongs signaling the matins and the stream twisting at his side. The almost surreal papier-mache landscape recalls the forms and colors of El Greco (see his portrait of St. Francis Kneeling in Meditation) and the imagination of Mary Shelley and Anne Radcliffe, whose gothic novels Frankenstein and The Mysteries of Udlopho awakened an interest in mysticism, ghosts, and supernatural terrors experienced amidst sublime scenery, that became popular themes in art and literature during the first half of the 19th century.