Richly illustrated with etchings, manuscripts, and old documents, and thanks to Nicholas Foulkes’ text, the book retraces the epic tale of the automaton from ancient times up to the present day.

The history of automata is intimately linked to the emergence and development of clock making through the centuries, to the mastery of time, and to mechanical science. Wondrous objects that are at once scientific and magical, the astronomical clocks including automata testify to the technical research and inventiveness of their designers. The creation of more complicated wheelwork and the use of extremely meticulous spiral springs gave free rein to the clockmakers’ imaginations, to impress princes, inventing animated objects that fascinated philosophers and scientists alike. Doctors, thespians, and thinkers of the modern world all saw these increasingly lifelike automata: wonderful simulacra of life. These articulated figurines were to inspire thought, science, literature, the performing arts, and more.

Continuing this tradition, the house of Van Cleef & Arpels has harnessed all of its designers’ talents to create an exceptional automaton: a fairy, whose movement celebrate the art of the inventors of past centuries. Immersed in its designer’s studio, the reader sees an automaton come to life – a masterpiece of engineering. 

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Hardcover, 20 x 28 cm

320 pages

Around 160 photographs, illustrations and historical documents

Texts (in English) 

Nicholas Foulkes


Patrick Gries

ISBN : 978-2-36511-134-8

55,00 €

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