7 . Automaton
43" (109 cm.) Standing upon a velvet-covered wooden base is a papier-mache Mandarin with sienna-tinted papier-mache swivel head sculpted uniquely for this automaton,with very narrow glass eyes,articulated eyelids,and articulated lower lips,black mohair wig,goatee and Fu Manchu style moustache,carton and wood body with one-piece torso and legs,wire upper arms. He is costumed as a Renaissance-style minstrel with lavish velvet costume accented with gold fleur-de-lis designs which are repeated on his slippers and splendid feathered cap and red-lined cape; lace ruffles edge his sleeves and cap. When wound,a wonderful and intricate series of movements,sound,and music occur,in the theme of the minstrel teaching a red-feathered bird,perched on his finger,to sing. The Bird Trainer nods,turns his head,moves his lips as though talking,blinks his eyes,and brings the flute to his mouth. He "plays" the flute,his three articulated fingers moving in a realistic manner,to the melody that the hidden music box plays. Then,ending the flute playing he turns,bidding the bird to repeat the song. The bird then takes the stage,turning his head from side to side,and begins to sing his own bird song,occasionally pausing,then singing again,but always his own bird song,never the man-made melody. The extraordinary automaton has long-running spring movement,nine animations and six melodious tunes. Condition: generally excellent,music and mechanism function well. Comments: Michel Bertrand,successor to Vichy firm,created "The Bird Trainer" at the end of the 20th century,inspired by the original Vichy 1890 automaton "Dresser d'Oiseau"; of the original model only two are known to exist,and it is believed that Bertrand created only two of this adapted version. Value Points: extraordinary work of art with complicated and wonderful motions and music,beautifully-preserved.