Horizontal table sundial
Franz Anton Knittl (1671-1744), signed
Linz, ca 1710-1720
Brass, engraved; silver, engraved; glass
Signed ‘Franz Antoni Knitl fecit Linz’
Dimensions of the hour-plate: width 27.5 cm, depth 22 cm
The elaborately engraved square hour-plate of this large table sundial stands on four feet, the height of which can be adjusted by screws, and is signed with the inscription ‘Franz Antoni Knitl fecit Linz’. Franz Anton Knittl was one of the most important Austrian geometers. In 1697 he was summoned to Kremsmünster to make mathematical instruments and teach. From 1708 he was an instructor at the engineering school in Linz, where he taught mathematics, geometry, architecture and fortification engineering. He made a variety of scientific instruments that are distinguished by elaborately engraved decoration, including burning mirrors, sundials with minute scales and horizontal table sundials like the one discussed here. The engraved representations at the centre of the hour-plate to the left and right of the compass are a remarkable feature of the present timepiece: allegories of applied mathematics are depicted as personified by a stonemason and a civil engineer in antiquising costume. Two companion-pieces to the present sundial are held in, respectively, the Science Museum in London and the Schloßmuseum in Linz: both are identical to it in dimensions and decoration – except for the central engravings, which represent female personifications of geometry and geography.