A SILVER-GILT AND ENAMEL SINGING BIRD BOX, CHARLES BRUGUIER, GENEVA, MID 19TH CENTURY
rectangular with fluted corners, the lid brightly enamelled with flower bouquets on a turquoise ground within ondulating black enamel border, centred by an enamel panel representing an alpine lakescape, opening to reveal a small turquoise-feathered singing bird with ivory beak rising from a pierced oval grille, its bird opening, its wings flapping, the inside of lid plaque enamelled in the same turquoise enamel, the sides with floral foliage over diaper pattern, the fusee movement signed 'C. Bruguier, Genève' and numbered: 529, in the original fitted leather case, later key
9.5cm., 3¾in wide
Very good condition.
Tiny loss to enamel along the rim on the central plaque, small loss to blue enamel on the right side of the lid, bird in excellent condition.
The musical movement currently working well, but Sotheby's does not guarantee the functioning of movements.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Charles Abraham Bruguier, born in Geneva in 1788, was 'the last of the great makers of singing birds in the true tradition of the Jaquet-Droz', to whom the invention of singing bird boxes has traditionally been attributed (Geoffrey T. Mayson, Mechanical Singing-Bird Tabatières, London, 2000, p. 16). Bruguier's son, also named Charles Abraham, was born in 1816, and the family lived in London between 1816 and 1822, where Bruguier improved his craftmanship further on mechanical boxes of all sorts. His son continued his business later on, and much like Bontems, they did not only make these colourfully-enamelled cheerful bird boxes, but also specialised in repairing earlier examples of earlier automaton makers, such as Jaquet-Droz and Leschot. The example in the present lot has a ornamental lever which seems to be more charactetistic for boxes of the later years.