French Musical Automaton "Elegant Lady at Her Piano" by Gustave Vichy

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18" (46 cm.) A velvet-covered wooden stage presents a vignette of an elegant lady posed on a stool at her piano, ready for her performance. The lady has a bisque poupee head attributed to Gaultier, blue glass eyes, closed mouth, nicely painted features, pierced ears, blonde mohair flowing curls, carton torso and legs, metal hands, and is exquisitely costumed in silk and lace. The piano is of fine rosewood with ebonized finish borders and sides, bone and ebony spring-tension keys, and features shaped columns, ormolu two-arm candle holders and side handles, music sheet, and porcelain vase with silk flowers. When wound, the lady pianist moves in a realistic manner, turning and nodding her head as if alternating between reading the sheet music and watching her hands on the keys, while her forearms move sideways across the keyboard, and, independently up and down as her hands approach the keys. Meanwhile four operatic tunes emanate from a 52-note Swiss movement. The rear of the piano contains an access panel by which the mechanism may be viewed in action. Condition: generally excellent, well-functioning. Comments: Gustave Vichy, Paris, circa 1878, an early model from the illustrious firm, possibly created for, and exhibited at, the 1878 Universal Exhibition in Paris where Vichy exhibited his automata for the first time. Value Points: wonderfully-preserved luxury automaton whose fine quality of woods and piano keys enhance the realistic and complicated movements.
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