A RARE DIMINUTIVE GOLD, ENAMEL AND PEARL SINGING BIRD BOX, THE MOVEMENT ROCHAT FRÈRES, GENEVA, CIRCA 1815
rectangular, the body enamelled in translucent scarlet within borders decorated in gold and turquoise taille d’épargne enamelling with delicate foliate scrollwork, the corners with ribbon-tied wreaths, the oval lid painted with a young girl playing with a pet squirrel and opening to reveal the bright-eyed bird with ivory beak and multi-coloured feathers which pick up the colours of the exterior enamelling, the movement with key-wound spring barrel, the bellows and singing controlled by a sliding stack of eight cams with further fixed cams to control the movement of the bird, the case apparently unmarked, the movement with Frères Rochat maker's mark and numbered: 292
7.2cm., 3in. wide
Movement: complete and in good condition, running at time of cataloguing but may benefit from a clean and fresh oil. With male winder.
Very minor and small hair crack to enamel panel.
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"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."
King Farouk of Egypt (1936-1965) until 1952;
sale, Sotheby & Co., The Palace Collections of Egypt, Cairo, 10-17 March 1954, lot 552; John Asprey Collection;
Mark Yaffe Collection, sale, The Art of Horology in Geneva, Antiquorum, Geneva, 13-14 November 1999, lot 81
Sharon & Christian Bailly, Oiseaux de Bonheur, Geneva, 2001, box and movement illustrated p. 250
Asprey, Music, Magic & Motion : An Exhibition of Rare 18th Century Watches, Boxes and Automata from the Asprey Private Collection, New York, 1988, no. 33, p. 43
The sons of David Rochat of Le Brassus worked with the innovative firm of Jaquet-Droz & Leschot in the last years of the 18th century to produce snuff boxes, flasks, cages and temples all containing these ‘playthings for Kings’. Later they moved to Geneva and opened their own workshops to carry on the same traditions of fine craftsmanship and invention. Their singing birds are considered to be unequalled later in performance and sweetness of tone.
The song of the present bird is of particular rarity and interest, as the cataloguer of the Palace Collections sale in 1954 pointed out – ‘the bird sings first the conventional bird song followed by a Swiss tune and then repeats the initial bird song’.