PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED COLLECTOR
The present lot is one of only three Barking Dog automata with a diameter measuring at 39 mm. The majority of these pieces have a much larger diameter, measuring at 59 mm. Of the two other known smaller Barking Dogs, one, no. 282, only two numbers away from the present lot, was sold by Antiquorum Hong Kong, lot 311, in 2007. Sotheby's New York sold the other in June 2015, lot 113.
Of further interest is the position of the dog and cat. The present lot features the dog on the left with the cat on the right, whereas the no. 275 and no. 280 each featured the reverse layout of the dog and cat.
Piguet & Meylan, are thought to have only produced an approximate twenty 'Barking Dog' watches. The present lot possibly being offered for the first time at auction would make it the twenty-first. Piguet and Meylan Barking Dog watch all have numbers lower than 300.
The sound of a barking dog is ingeniously reproduced by a set of bellows activated by depressing the pendant, thus also marking the hours and quarters. To achieve the sound, the mechanism exerts a sharp pressure on a miniature bellows connected to a whistle vented through an open aperture on the case side.
The Barking Dog automata were typically produced with a dog and a swan, (presumably based on engravings of Jean Baptiste Oudry's famous painting of the subject) whereas the theme of the present lot, featuring a dog and a cat, is found in perhaps less than half a dozen pieces. For further information on barking dogs with cats, see Bernard Pin, Watches and Automata The Maurice Sandoz Collection, cat. I. 22, pp 134-139.
The ‘incomparable’ Bohemian painter Johann Wenzel Peter (1745-1829) who lived and worked in Rome from 1774, specialized in painting animals in conflict. His design of a dog barking at a cat (though not identical to this) was much copied by Roman mosaicists after it was first recorded in the studio of the mosaicist Puglieschi in 1805/6. An example signed by Gioacchino Barberi (1783-1857) is set into the lid of a contemporary gold box by A.J. Strachan, London, 1807/8, and is now in the Gilbert Collection, London (Charles Truman, The Gilbert Collection of Gold Boxes, vol. I, Los Angeles, 1991, p. 328, no. 113). Another example, in a private collection, signed by the mosaicist Domenico Moglia (1780-1862) is also set into the lid of a snuff box by Strachan, again of 1807/8; the base is set with a micro mosaic of a dog barking at a swan. It is not inconceivable that Piguet & Meylan were aware of these fashionable mosaics, since many were bought as plaques by travelers on the Grand Tour and mounted by Geneva gold box makers.
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