Marthe Bischoff was born in 1900 and is one of the greatest miniature enamellers of the last 100 years. She created only a handful of works for Patek Philippe and her talents are cherished to such a degree that two examples are on permanent display at the firm’s prestigious museum in Geneva. Madam Bischoff can embody Old Masters and 19th Century Paintings with great ease, adapting her style in a way that flows comfortably with any type of subject matter.
The present hunter case watch is exceptional in many ways and is one of only three known double-sided miniature enamels made by Patek Philippe, one of which also resides in the Patek Philippe museum and is painted by Nelly Richard and the only other known example sleeps with an important collector in Europe and was painted by Suzanne Rohr. The technic of polychrome enamel or painted-on enamel is the process with which the artist paints directly onto the surface and creates a miniature version usually inspired by a famous image or painting.
Bischoff was inspired by the paintings of Antoine Charles Horace Vernet, the youngest child of the celebrated Old Master painter, Claude Joseph Vernet. The painting on the cover, first stated in 1969 and finished by Bischoff on the 10th June 1970 is after the famous work titled “Chasse Pres de Fontainebleau” and was painted in 1824. This picture is on view at the Musee de la Chasse museum in France.
It was not until 1975 that Bischoff completed the second painting on the reverse side of the case that was again inspired by Vernet and is titled ‘Le débucher’ which in French means to “scared up” and is used to describe the horses and dogs running from their hiding places. It is important to note that Bischoff was 75 years old when she finished both paintings on either side of the case, ironically in 1975. The watch was then retailed by the famous Swiss retailer Gubelin for 36,000 Sfr in 1976, a staggering sum to say the least. Further elevating the craftsmanship of this watch is the presence of the original certificate, box and original sales invoice.