image tracts_lxxiii_5_desaguliers
Image number: RS.11869
Credit: ©The Royal Society





François Vivarès (1709-1780, French), Printmaker


Hubert François Bourguignon Gravelot (1699-1773, French), Illustrator

Object type

Library reference

Tracts LXXIII/5




height (print): 225mm
width (print): 170mm



Tableau of three clockwork automata, two human musicians and one duck, presented on plinths against a background of trees viewed through windows, with a curtains above.

Frontispiece plate from the monograph An account of the mechanism of an automaton, or image playing on the German-flute by M. Vaucanson…translated by J.T. Desaguliers (T. Parkes, London, 1742).

Inscribed below: ‘H.Gravelot delin. Vivares Sculp.’

The accompanying text describes each machine commencing with the flute-player: ‘a wooden statue, copied from the Marble Faune of Coysevaux, that plays on the German-Flute; on which it performs twelve different Tunes, with an exactness which has deserv’d the Admiration of the Publick…My second Machine, or Automaton, is a Duck, in which I represent the Mechanism of the Intestines which are employed in the Operations of Eating, Drinking, and Digestion…My third Machine…is the figure playing on the Tabor and Pipe, which stands upright on its Pedestal, dress’d like a dancing Shepherd. This plays twenty Tunes…’

Jacques de Vaucanson (1709-1782) French inventor, artist and creator of automata.

John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683–1744) French-born British natural philosopher and engineer was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1714.

Associated place

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