Music automaton - male saint

Metalwork Collection

Accession Nr.: 11254.a-b
Turriano, Juanelo (1510 - 1585)
Materials: iron; limewood; silk damask
Techniques: carved; painted
height: 41 cm
base diameter: 14 cm
A saint with a beard his head, hands and feet elaborately carved. The case of the mechanism (the figure's body) is turned. It is made of iron, steel and wood, with some copper parts (e.g. the gilt halo in the head). The bells are cast bronze. The wooden harmony cylinder has steel prickles. The key-wound spring mechanism can be started by pushing the right foot of the figure. During the glockenspiel it moves the whole arm, shaking the bell in the hand, turns the head from right to left and back, moves the eyes and lips, finally, at the end of the programme, causes the head to nod. The melody and the movements are repeated twice per programme. The figure's beige silk damask shirt and blue silk damask robe with braids of metal thread were both added in the 18th century. The unfitted grooves on the cylinder mean that the figure's movements were accompanied by another melody. The harmony we can hear today is considered a secular rather than a religious one by Éva Ferenczy, a Hungarian music historian. There are only three automata of the same age discovered so far: one is in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, "A Lady Playing the Lute" the other is in a private collection, "A Lady Playing Music" and the third is in the Washington National Museum of History and Technology, representing a Franciscan monk. The movement of the head and the moving techniques of the latter one are almost identical with the piece described above.


  • Szerk.: Horváth Hilda, Szilágyi András: Remekművek az Iparművészeti Múzeum gyűjteményéből. (Kézirat). Iparművészeti Múzeum, Budapest, 2010. - Nr. 26. (téves ltsz.mal) (Horváth Hilda)
  • Szerk.: Pataki Judit: Az idő sodrában. Az Iparművészeti Múzeum gyűjteményeinek története. Iparművészeti Múzeum, Budapest, 2006. - Nr. 111. (Nagy Györgyi)
  • King Elizabeth: Clockwork Prayer. A Sixteenth-Century Mechanical Monk. Blackbird - online journal of literature and the arts, 1. (2002). 2002.
  • Szerk.: Lovag Zsuzsa: Az Iparművészeti Múzeum. (kézirat). Iparművészeti Múzeum, Budapest, 1994. - Nr. SZ/103. (téves ltsz.mal)
  • Rácz Jenő, Soós Katalin: Eine Automatenfigur in Budapest. Zeitschrift für Kunsttechnologie und Konservierung, 4. (1990). 1990. - 207-214.
  • Szerk.: Péter Márta: Reneszánsz és manierizmus. Az európai iparművészet korszakai. Iparművészeti Múzeum, Budapest, 1988. - Nr. 290. (téves ltsz.mal) (Maros Donka Szilvia)