“Chillon Castle” Historical Automaton.
A joint purchase between the Cantonal of Archaeology & History Museum of Lausanne and the Chillon Castle Foundation, this automaton offers a vision of the fortress before the archaeological excavation campaigns and restorations of the 1890s. It is usually exhibited in the museum, in the “Vaud history“ section. But every two or three years, it is moved to the castle and joined the Coat-of-Arms Hall for a few months.
This exceptional piece from the end of the 19th century is the work of the Vaudois watchmaker Edouard-Gabriel Wüthrich. Like many of his contemporaries who were inspired by Lord Byron’s poem The Prisoner of Chillon, the artist is showing the prisoner from Geneva, François Bonivard‘s captivity in Chillon Castle.
“Chillon Castle” is a mechanical and musical work of art, which displays a complete visit of the castle through moving mechanisms on both façades of the model. Complex watchmaking movements make some one hundred figurines move, in representations of the attack on Chillon Castle by troops from Geneva and from Berne, as well as the release of Bonivard in 1536. Barred windows give a view of the inside of the rooms, in particular scenes of torture in the prison.
Initially this automaton was displayed on a cart that made it easy to transport from town to town. This is how it was exhibited at Beaulieu square in Lausanne and at the Vaudois Cantonal Exhibition in Yverdon in 1894.
The automaton was purchased thanks to the generous support of the Friends of Chillon Castle Association, the Cantonal Archaeology and History Museum and the Chillon Castle Foundation.
Edouard-Gabriel Wüthrich (1865?-1927)
Late 19th century
Sandblasted zinc, copper and wood
Cantonal Museum of Archaeology & History, Lausanne