PROPERTY OF A MIDWESTERN AMERICAN FAMILY
Sotheby’s is delighted to offer the present lot for the first time at auction on behalf of a Midwestern American Family. This stunning and hitherto unknown example adds significant understanding to our knowledge of the collaborative works of Vacheron Constantin with Verger Frères. Its symmetrical octagonal format makes it the first known of this shape, reinforcing the notion that the creative spirit of the time was truly boundless.
The dial features a charming tropical scene of two exotic birds within palm fronds, all masterfully executed in tinted mother-of-pearl. Though the dial is unsigned, careful review of comparable signed pieces suggests that this artistry may well have been the work of Vladimir Makovsky. His work made frequent reference to exotic lands and faraway adventures after a lifetime of travels. These scenes were commissioned for pieces from the most illustrious maisons: Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier, among others.
The movement is signed by Vacheron Constantin, whose work is found in some of the most celebrated pieces of this type. In creating these masterpieces, they worked in close collaboration with Verger Frères, a renowned French firm who was known to be the Paris representative of Vacheron Constantin between 1880 and 1930. In this partnership, Vacheron Constantin would create movements, and upon arrival in Paris, Verger Frères would case them in watch and clock cases. These pieces made brilliant use of carved hardstones, favoring Eastern-themed motifs and exotic creatures such as monkeys or parrots.
Items from this collaboration were also retailed in many of the other fine jewelry salons of the era, such as Tiffany & Co., Lacloche Frères, Ostertag, Black, Starr & Frost, and in the present example, the Parisian retailer Linzeler and Marchak. Later, in 1946, Jacques Verger would join the firm and ultimately gain ownership of it, further cementing the strong relationship between the houses that we see in the present example. Interestingly enough, Judy Rudoe notes in Cartier 1900-1930 that Cartier took over the Linzeler/Marchak workshop from the mid 1930s until the 1940s.
For pieces of strikingly similar design, though in asymmetrical octagonal cases, see The Art of Vacheron Constantin, Antiquorum, November 13th, 1994, lots 74 and 75.
For additional desk clocks made by Verger Frères for Vacheron Constantin, see Cologni, F., Secrets of Vacheron Constantin, p. 330-1. See also pieces on view in the summer 2011 exhibition 'Treasures of Vacheron Constantin: A Legacy of Watchmaking since 1755', held at the National Museum of Singapore. These pieces are illustrated on pp. 179-181 of the exhibition catalogue.
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