David Roentgen's Automaton of Queen Marie Antoinette, The Dulcimer Player (La Joueuse de Tympanon)
Watch this surprising video of an automaton play the dulcimer.
David Roentgen (1743--1807) took his royal patron by surprise when he delivered this beautiful automaton to King Louis XVI for his queen, Marie Antoinette, in 1784. The cabinetry for this piece is very much a neoclassical masterwork, and the mechanism behind it is truly extraordinary: the figure strikes the strings in perfect rhythm with two small metal hammers held in her hands, which move with great precision.
This object is from Musée des arts et métiers de Paris and is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the exhibition Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens: http://www.metmuseum.org/en/exhibitions/listings/2012/roentgen
View the full video here: http://www.cerimes.fr/le-catalogue/la-joueuse-de-tympanon.html
Footage courtesy of CERIMES.