Marie Antoinette’s dulcimer player

July 14, 2011

Marie Antoinette playing the harp at the French Court. Painting by Jean-Baptiste Gautier Dagoty

La Joueuse de Tympanum (the dulcimer player) is a famed music box/android made by Peter Kintzing, a clockmaker, and David Roentgen, a cabinetmaker. According to tradition, the musician represents Marie Antoinette. The fact is that the Queen did buy the charming production in 1784 and gifted it to the Academy of Science in the following year because of its intricate mechanics.

La Joueuse was damaged during the French Revolution but fully restored in the 19th century.

It is now kept among the exhibits of the Musée des arts et métiers (Museum of Arts and Crafts) in Paris.

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