Did you know that Marie-Antoinette had a French female piano playing android that entertained her court? With technology marrying music, Marie-Antoinette’s automaton was a scientific wonder. Rarely on display, the android is currently part of a new exhibition celebrating Versailles as a place of scientific inquiry.
The “Sciences and Curiosities at the Court of Versailles” exhibition is currently open at the Palace of Versailles, outside of Paris, France, from 26 October 2010 to 27 February 2011.
This famous android was a collaborative effort by two Germans clockmaker — Peter Kintzing created the mechanism and joiner David Roentgen crafted the cabinet; the dress dates from the 19th century. Automatons were in circulation and aroused much curiosity. Roentgen probably sent the tympanum to the French court and Marie-Antoinette bought it in 1784. The queen, aware of its perfection and scientific interest, had it deposited in the Academy of Sciences cabinet in 1785. The tympanum is a musical instrument that plays eight tunes when the female android strikes the 46 strings with two little hammers. Tradition has it that she is a depiction of Marie-Antoinette. Check out this, and more scientific wonders, at the Palace of Versailles from 26 October 2010 to 27 February 2011.