The items on the court cupboard – top shelf
Could be better made but it just might do.
The making of the device
Spent yesterday evening collecting sundial faces from portable dial/time keepers of the general period and trying to reshape, resize and then greyscale a bunch to try to use for the faces of the 10 sided polyhedron. Decided in the end to go for just 5 images and make both halves the same. Because of the small size all the images are fuzzy at the above enlargement. I used Word autoshapes to build the paper design and added the images to it before printing the Word page and having a go. It’s lightly stuffed with shreddings of paper towel to give it a little body when sticking the flaps for joining the two halves together. It has come up a little too large for the size of surface I’m using but I’ll stick with it in the meantime until it becomes unavoidable that it should be a smaller one.
There are quite a number of paintings with polyhedral portable sundials, but a particular one, which is either by Holbein or after the style of Holbein depending on who you read, is of Nicholas Kratzer, mathematician and friend of Thomas More. In this painting you can see some of the instruments of the mathematician, designer and maker of scientific items, along with at least 2 other pieces (top left) which are also in “The Ambassadors” painting.
It reminds me of the question when studying art history at school and of trying to work out which artists did their work ‘in the field’ and which did quick sketches and brought back bits of nature, furniture, anatomical parts, to the studio to build a composition. So does Holbein keep them to hand as symbols of the advancing times and the objects men of means and learning would care to be seen posing with, or did Kratzer (and others) just happen to loan them at the time of paintings? One of those unanswerables, possibly.