334
334

PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN

Piguet et Capt à Genève
AN EXCEPTIONAL AND RARE THREE COMPARTMENT GOLD AND ENAMEL MUSICAL AUTOMATON SNUFF BOX WITH CONCEALED TIMEPIECE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET, THE ENAMEL SCENE ATTRIBUTED TO JEAN ABRAHAM LISSIGNOL, THE BOX BY GUIDON, GIDE ET BLONDET FILS GENEVA, CIRCA 1801-1804
ACCÉDER AU LOT
334

PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN

Piguet et Capt à Genève
AN EXCEPTIONAL AND RARE THREE COMPARTMENT GOLD AND ENAMEL MUSICAL AUTOMATON SNUFF BOX WITH CONCEALED TIMEPIECE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET, THE ENAMEL SCENE ATTRIBUTED TO JEAN ABRAHAM LISSIGNOL, THE BOX BY GUIDON, GIDE ET BLONDET FILS GENEVA, CIRCA 1801-1804
ACCÉDER AU LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Watches

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Genève

Piguet et Capt à Genève
AN EXCEPTIONAL AND RARE THREE COMPARTMENT GOLD AND ENAMEL MUSICAL AUTOMATON SNUFF BOX WITH CONCEALED TIMEPIECE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET, THE ENAMEL SCENE ATTRIBUTED TO JEAN ABRAHAM LISSIGNOL, THE BOX BY GUIDON, GIDE ET BLONDET FILS GENEVA, CIRCA 1801-1804
• the case of rectangular form, the central lid with a finely painted polychrome enamel classical scene depicting a music lesson inhabited by young girl holding a music book and two children, one playing a flute, within a classical setting, painted in the manner of Lissignol en plein with rich hues of red, yellow and burgundy • the scene framed by gold egg and dart motif and further embellished with opaque black stringing, the side panels applied with gold classical figures • the right playing a harp and the left carrying a water vessel both against an opaque powder blue enamel ground, the right lid opening to reveal an automaton scene applied with vari-color gold figures representing a seated lady playing the harp using both hands and a gentleman tapping his foot in beat to the music and moving his forearm back and forth holding a monocle in his hand, the figures beneath a caged bird who at the end of the song flies from its cage, with a dog standing in wait below, the scene applied against a finely painted polychrome enamelled  interior scene • the opposite compartment with small  white enamel dial at 6 o'clock with arabic chapters, moon-style hands, beneath a circular open work grill which reveals the balance fitted with regulation arc • all against an engine-turned blue enamel ground embellished with gold wreaths and foliate swags partly decorated with white enamel, the side panels and bottom decorated with translucent blue enamel against a wavy engine-turned ground, the back and front corners further engraved with gold baskets heightened by opaque white enamel • rectangular movement with cylinder escapement, pinned disc mechanism driving both the music and the automata • movement plates for both the watch and automata scratch signed Piguet et Capt a Genève, one with no. 89  and the other no. 91, the box stamped GG(B) partly indistinct below a crown for Guidon, Gide et Blondet Fils, accompanied by the Asprey Exhibition Catalogue
length 87 mm
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Provenance

Galerie Horologerie Ancienne, Geneva March 1975, lot 138
Asprey Private Collection, London 1980's- 1995
Current owner 1995 until now.

Exposition

Magic, Music and Motion,  Asprey, New York, 1980's,

Bibliographie

Magic, Music and Motion, Exhibition Catalogue Asprey, New York, 1980's, Exhibit 12

 

Description

This magnificent three compartment box was exhibited at Asprey's New York, in the 1980's.  The Exhibition titled ‘Magic, Music and Motion, an Exhibition of rare 18th and 19th Century Watches, Boxes and Automata from the Asprey Private Collection’, was exhibited at Asprey’s New York Fifth Avenue premises.

Piguet & Capt’s automaton in the present lot comprises a rare variation of the music lesson, where the young woman strums the harp with both hands rather than the more typically found one hand, the gentleman leaning on her chair, may be her teacher or perhaps her suitor.  The gentleman figure is particularly rare given the fact that he moves his hand to the beat of the music whilst holding a monocle. Most endearing and quite uncommon in these miniature mechanical tableaus is the bird cage above, with a bird that springs out of the cage at the end of the tune.  

The combination of music, automata, and time piece places this in the rarest class of boxes made in Geneva during the start of the 19th Century.

Isaac Daniel Piguet (1775 – 1841) and Henri Capt (1773 – 1837?) were partners from 1802 to 1811 in the firm bearing their name, Piguet & Capt.  The duo are considered amongst the most important makers of small automata at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. Examples of their craftsmanship are exhibited in the world's foremost collections such as the Patek Philippe Museum, Geneva.

The snuff box is stamped by the firm of Guidon, Gide et Blondet who were active in Geneva between 1801 and 1804. The formal closure of the Geneva firm of Guidon, Rémond, Gide & Co. on 1 January 1801 was followed by a division of the partners who, on the same day, opened on the one hand, Rémond, Lamy & Co. and on the other, Guidon Gide & Blondet.

The marks of all three firms are to be found on the best Geneva gold and enamel snuff boxes of the period, such as a snuff box depicting Carlos IV of Spain and his consort Maria Luisa of Parma being welcomed to Barcelona on 1 September 1802 (sold 3 July 2012 at Sotheby’s). It was rare to record such a precise event on a Geneva box which also meant that it gave independent confirmation of the date of the mark.  

The enamel is possibly by Jean-Abraham Lissignol (1749-1819), known as Pére Lissignol to distinguish him from his son Abraham who was also an enameller in Geneva; Pére Lissignol was trained by Jean-Marc Roux. As well as painting plaques for snuff boxes, he also supplied workshops with portrait miniatures for watch cases and boxes. He appears to have specialised in allegorical subjects particularly those including plump cherubs. A box in the Patek Philippe Museum shows such a scene identified as the allegory of The Arts and Nature. In 1806, Père Lissignol wrote eloquently to the Paris authorities (Geneva then being occupied by France) suggesting that the Imperial Court should buy enameled trinkets to encourage the failing trade in Geneva, just as they had bought Lyons silk to help that market recover (Geneva Archives).

For two other known three compartment boxes with similar automata see: Chapuis, A., Gelis, E., Le Monde des Automates, Tome II, p. 47, fig. 316, signed Isaac Del Piguet, a Genève, now in the David Salomons Collection of Watches and Clocks L.A. Mayer Museum  for Islamic Art in Jerusalem, and also illustrated in the catalogue of the collection Daniel, G., Markarian, O., The Art of Time, p. 116, 2009, pp. 116 -117; Antiquorum,  The Sandberg Watch Collection  March 31-April 1, 2001, Geneva, lot 127; The Sandoz Collection.

For another automata box with a similar enamel subject, see Antiquorum, October 2005, Hong Kong, Lot 121.

For a discussion of Swiss gold boxes, Enamels of the World 1700-2000, The Khalili Collections, Chapter 9, pp. 293-317, by Julia Clarke.

Important Watches

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Genève