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Pierre Jacquet-Droz - Clock shaped like a bird cage

A gift from Queen Marie Antoinette to her sister Queen Maria Carolina

Orologio Maria Antonietta Carolina Caserta 698x500, Palace of Caserta Unofficial


  • Category: bronze
  • Type: clock
  • Artist: Pierre Jacquet-Droz (1721—1790)
  • Year: 1785
  • Origin: Switzerland
  • Material: bronze
  • Technique: casting, chiselling, gilding, painting
  • Style: neoclassical
  • Dimensions HxWxD: 50x34X34

Located into: Private Apartments, Queen’s Workroom and in Stucco Cabinet


Part of a pair of which one has engraved within the “4 fevrier 1785” date, were created by the swiss watchmaker Pierre Jacquet Droz (1721-1790). The Queen of France Marie Antoinette gave them to her sister Mary Maria Carolina of Austria, queen of Naples, because they used to exchange gifts with each otherMaria Carolina decided to hang them up to the ceiling where they are still today: they are two of the objects that, in the palace, have never changed position. They play every half hour and are still working today.

The Royal Palace of Caserta boasts an extraordinary collection of watches not just for interiors but also for the garden, such as the sundials. Particular is that one at the balcony of King Charles II’s anteroom, which he often used to remedy to the imprecision of mechanical clocks, which are also impossible to be synchronized. For the Bourbon family clocks they were not simple measurers of time, but furnishings and entertainment objects such as, for example, the one into an automatic organ (of which the Palace boasts an outstanding collection).


Neoclassical style cage made of gold-plated bronze. It is possible to hang it up or to put on a table thanks to its four legs:

  • The base consists of a clock with a enameled dial visible only from the bottom: equipped with a manual charging mechanism, with an hand for hours (in Roman numerals), while another one for minutes (Arabic numerals) from zero to sixty. At the corners four niches with busty figurines representing the four ages of life: childhood, youth, maturity, oldness;
  • Within both cages, there are now two embalmed birds that have replaced mechanical originals in an unknown time. Originally the mechanical birds at each hours they sang, turning around and banging their wings. This was thanks to 12 small internal organs (12 as the hours) and a rotating cylinder with tips that, rotating at every hour, solicited the cane producing the chirping.


A video of a similar watch created by Pierre Jaquet-Droz. Admire the original mechanism before it was damaged.

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