24" Shepherdess with Lamb by Roullet

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Jean Roullet, Paris. Circa 1880. 24” (61 cm). Six movements. One tune. Standing upon a flat red-velvet covered platform is a bisque-headed woman with a portrait like elegant expression, brown glass paperweight eyes, closed mouth, brown human hair, separate bisque shoulder plate, carton torso that contains a clockwork mechanism, shapely paper mache legs, bisque lower arms. A hidden metal rod from side torso supports the lidded wicker basket at her side that she appears to be holding with her right hand. She wears superb Watteau-style silk taffeta gown of green and ivory stripes with matching bonnet, cream ruffles, rose-edged apron and ruffle, and carries a silk covered shepherdess crook in her left hand. The doll is marked Déposé Tête Jumeau Bte SGDG 7. Movements: She turns to the right as though gazing at the countryside, then nods and lifts her crook as though to shepherd the lambs. Then the lid of the basket starts to open as though the baby lamb is awakening, so she turns her head to see what is happening, nods toward the lamb whose head is turning right to left and whose mouth is opening and closing. The shepherdess moves her crook toward him as though to say, “go back to sleep, go back to sleep”. The lamb bleats and tucks back into the basket. The basket lid closes. Historical Comments: The automaton appeared in an early Roullet catalog named Bergère Watteau, in homage to the French painter Jean-Antoine Watteau whose early 18th century romantic paintings of the idyllic life of the French countryside had remained the Parisian’s vision of that scene. In his paintings, Watteau’s women cavorted in the countryside, costumed in elegant silk gowns, blissfully unaware of mud or thorns or the real nature of miscreant lambs.
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