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Demonstration of David Roentgen's Automaton of Queen Marie Antoinette, The Dulcimer Player

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.

Created by The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Video transcript