The illusion of the passing of time

Several months ago, the Musée de l’Horlogerie [Museum of Clock and Watchmaking] acquired a tableau à surprise with a clock movement and music box: a beautiful combination of clock making, painting, and music.
The painting represents a village scene on the banks of a river. There are several scenes: a woman and a man are talking; a woman is drawing water from a well; another woman is washing her laundry; at the water’s edge away from the village, a man is courting a woman sitting on a rock; and further away, three people are fishing on a small sailing boat. In the distance we can see mountains. Behind the church tower and its small dial, the ruins of a château or church can be seen.

Be they a village or a port scene, these naïve paintings more often than not depict a watercourse and the inevitable church tower, or château tower as a variation. The idea is simple: to give the illusion of the passing of time. In France and Spain, the scenes are more bucolic; in Germany and Austria, the painter is trying to depict reality, such as the Austro-Hungarian conflict.