For sale a rare mid-eighteenth Century German perpetual wall calendar by Christoffle Daniel Henning of Nuremberg.
Evidently created for the French market, the calendar is comprised of a rectangular painted pine backboard onto which two successive rococo designed pasteboard tiers are affixed. The lower tier is finely painted with rocaille shells to the head and foot and are surrounded with classical columns, theatrical drapery and floral motifs throughout, At the base, a semi circular cut out is provided, through which a painted and engraved volvelle denoting the numerical days of the week can be viewed and rotated accordingly. Surrounding the semi-circular cut out are painted the days of the week with the signs of the zodiac above.
The upper tier is similarly designed with painted rococo floral and sun motifs, headed by a cherub with a scythe cut out in relief and representing the passage of time and man’s mortality. Either side of the cherub are the words, “Almanach Perpetual”.
Numerous sections of the upper tier are cut out to reveal the readings from a secondary smaller volvelle which can be turned at its base. The uppermost section reads for months and the number of days in that month (Mois et Jours). The central section has the course of the sun (cours du soleil), sunrise (lever du soleil), length of the day (longuer du jour), sunset (coucher du soleil) and length of the night (longueur du nuit). The final lower section has the various feast days that are relevant to that month (jours de fete).
The reverse of the calendar retains a central hand engraved paper label which states that it was engraved and painted by Christoffle Daniel Henning of Nuremberg, (grave et peint par Christoffle Daniel Henning a Nurmberg). To the top of the board a wax seal holds the hanging loop and outlines a family crest containing a trefoil crown above two shields, one with alternate stripes and the other with a central chevron surrounded by three trefoils. Below the seal a second paper label remains in place but the writing is sadly obscured.
I have found no strong evidence but the seal may belong to the La Begue de Germiny family who once owned this calendar and formerly resided at Chateau Beauregard on what is now the French / Belgium border.
The creator of this fine instrument Christoffle Daniel Henning (1734 – 1795) was an Eighteenth Century German miniature painter, engraver, art dealer and publisher with a keen interest in science. These calendars were it seems a particular speciality of the Henning family as examples are known to have been produced by his Father, Viet Balthasar Henning (1707 – 1762) himself a publisher of scientific books, an instrument maker and to whom Christoffle was apprenticed. Following his Father’s death Henning took over the family publishing business. He witnessed and engraved the passage of the Great Comet of 1769 and had great success as both a publisher and a miniature painter.
Numerous examples of his engravings are held in collections throughout Europe with examples contained in Her Majesty’s Royal Collection and a fine collection of silhouettes which reside in the Nuremberg Museum.
A very rare and early perpetual calendar in good overall condition. It has some minor paint loss and folds to the edges as can be seen in the images provided but these do not detract in any way.