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Splendid French Automaton "Piano Watteau" by Vichy, Bisque Portrait Head, Hands

Lot Number: 
22
37" (94 cm.) h. 22" base. Arranged upon a red velvet covered wooden base is an elegant lady seated at a piano-harp. She has a bisque portrait head with brown paperweight inset eyes, thick dark eyeliner, painted lashes, rose-blushed eye shadow, brush-stroked and feathered brows, accented eye corners, shaded nostrils, closed mouth with beautifully-shaped outlined lips, separately-modeled pierced ears, paper mache shoulder plate designed to allow "breathing", carton torso and legs in seated pose with glued-on stockings and heeled shoes. bisque forearms with exquisite hands, wearing elaborate and elegant silk and lace costume with pearl jewelry. The piano-harp is painted pale yellow with gold-leaf painted carved borders and decorative painted colorful flowers, and has surmounting harp and sheet music rack. When the automaton is wound and lever released, the lady moves her hands across the top of the keyboard as though performing, turns her head, and "breathes" as though in awe of her own beautiful music. Four tunes play. Condition: generally excellent, early and fine restoration of painting and costume with antique fabrics and materials, mechanism and music function well. Marks: Depose Tete Jumeau 10 (and artist checkmarks on head). Comments: Vichy, the model appeared in the firm's catalog described as "Piano Watteau", catalog number 466, and was designated as a deposed model by the firm, circa 1888. Value Points: extremely rare luxury quality automaton with splendid bisque portrait face, compelling presence and movements including breathing, very beautiful presentation.
Realized Price: 
$22,500
Presale Estimate: 
25,000/35,000