Night Clock

Object Details


Night Clock


Case and hardstone mosaics by Giovanni Battista Foggini (Italian, 1652 - 1725)
Woodwork by Leonard van der Vinne (Flemish, active second half of 17th century - 1713)
in the Galleria de'Lavori in pietre dure (Italian, active 1588 - present)
Bronze figures attributed to Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (Italian, 1656 - 1740)
Mechanism by Francesco Papillion (Italian, active turn of 18th century)




Florence, Tuscany, Italy (Place created)


1704 - 1705


Ebony, gilt bronze, and semiprecious stones including chalcedony, jasper, lapis lazuli, and verde d'Arno


95 × 63 × 28 cm, 25.4014 kg (37 3/8 × 24 13/16 × 11 in., 56 lb.)

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Night clocks were designed to indicate the hours with a dial illuminated from behind with an oil lamp. In this way, the numbers would have been visible in a dark or dimly lighted room. They never became very popular, however, as keeping the lamp alight through the night required constant care, either by refueling or trimming the wick.

This timepiece was a collaborative effort of several of the most skilled artists who worked for the Medici family in Florence, including Leonard van der Vinne and Giovanni Battista Foggini. In addition, the statue of the boar mounted on the top may have been modeled by Massimiliano Soldani Benzi, based on a classical marble statue in the Uffizi. The clock's architectural shape copies the form of church altarpieces, while its elaborate stone decoration includes both flat scrolls in mosaics and innovative three-dimensional fruit garlands at the sides. The mechanism was created by Francesco Papillion.

Art of the Royal Court (July 1 to September 21, 2008)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), July 1 to September 21, 2008
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