Musical Automaton "Marchande de Masques" by Gustave Vichy

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36" (91 cm.) excluding parasol. A slender-featured refined lady with paper-mache head having defined high cheek bones and aquiline nose has a rich oil-painted amber-tinted complexion and facial features,brown glass eyes with dreamy expression achieved by heavy articulated eyelids,open mouth with row of teeth,and original black human hair with defined widow's peak. Over her carton torso she is wearing her original embroidered silk kimono costume with rich embroidery including a large and elegant crane,various under-layers,sash,and silk slippers. She is carrying a very large wooden handled paper parasol of unique design to this automaton,a paper mache mask in her hand,and a lacquered tray on which are displayed other paper-mache masks that she presents for sale. The movements are intricate: the lady pivots her head,raising and lowering her eyelids,while gracefully twirling the parasol between her fingers and occasionally lifting the mask to cover her face and then lowering it again. There are two tunes that accompany the music. Condition: generally excellent,music and motions function perfectly. Comments: Gustave Vichy,Paris,circa 1889,the model was presented in the Vichy catalog as model #448 named "Marchande de Masques" although commonly known as the "Japanese Lady Mask Seller". The model was deposed by Vichy and bears the original Vichy trademark lever and key. So important was this automaton that it was described in an 1892 article in the journal La Nature,and this particular example was photographed in the book,Les Automates by Eliane Margot. Value Points: remarkable state of preservation,with superb original costume,tray,hanging masks and even extremely rare original parasol,unique to this automaton,functioning beautifully. Ex-collection Jacques Damiot,(Paris 1914-1983) and the Steinbaum Collection.
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