This paper is about the advent of the mechanical clock in the 13th century and how it affected artistic depiction of time and its attributes. Specifically, the association of clocks and time with specific virtues (Prudence, Temperance, and Wisdom) being personified by women and how, in contrast, men were typically shown with a small ornate house clock to show their wealth and power. In the first section, this essay will focus on the invention of the mechanical clock itself and its cascading effect on society and art, with particular emphasis on artistic depictions of domestic clocks and turret clocks. In the second part, the essay will show how the mechanical clock became an important and very specific iconographic device for allegorical figures and secular men. In this second part, the essay will explore how the symbolism of the clock changed depending on who, if anyone, it was depicted with. To support my paper, I will use medieval miniature paintings depicting the allegorical figures of Temperance, Prudence and Wisdom from the 13th to 15th centuries as well as several large commissioned portraits of noblemen to show the vast differences in gendered associations of the mechanical clock. In addition, medieval literature and various primary sources will be referenced to illustrate both the importance of the mechanical clock in medieval society as well as the importance of communicating ideas through the use of allegorical figures.
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