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French Musical Automaton, Bebe Triste, Toy Theatre and Pup in Basket, Gustav Vichy

Lot Number: 
17
30" (76 cm.) Standing upon a flat wooden base with bronze velvet cover is a bisque-head bebe with brown glass paperweight eyes, closed mouth, painted features, extended length brunette mohair wig, carton torso and legs, composition lower arms, wears a maroon velvet and ivory silk dress with lace and ribbon trim, maroon velvet shoes, and lavish straw bonnet. A wicker basket decorated with green silk ribbons is attached to the side of her torso, and hiding under the basket lid is a white pup. A toy theatre is attached to the other side of her torso, decorated with rose and yellow silk draperies, a red silk curtain, and gilt metal ormolu decorations; inside the theatre is an acrobat. Condition: generally excellent, mechanism and music function well. Marks: 12 (head) G.V. (key). Comments: Gustav Vichy, circa 1885, the bebe model is the rare Jumeau Triste by Emile Jumeau. When wound seven movements occur: the girl turns to the left, the curtain arises, and the acrobat performs a complicates series of movements including tumbling, reversals, and balancing, and then the curtain comes down; she then turns to the right and blows kisses, the lid of the puppy basket arises and the puppy waves a friendly greeting with one paw. Meanwhile three musical tunes (Le Petit Bleu Valse, La Cour et la Main [word illegible], and La Princess de la Canaries, listed on the underside of the theatre) merrily play. The automaton was offered in the 1884 Paris department store catalog of Au Louvre at the extraordinary price of 290 francs, about ten times the cost of a luxury doll in the same catalog, and was also distributed by G. Baker Troll of Geneva, shown in an 1880s photograph of their showroom. Only one other example is known to exist at this time, but not having the Bebe Triste head. Ex-collection Christian Bailly.
Realized Price: 
$40,000
Presale Estimate: 
28,000/42,000