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Fine Pair of Gustave Vichy Black Musician Automata

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Clocks, Watches & Scientific Instruments - 2383
Date / Time :
October 28, 2007 10:00AM


Fine Pair of Gustave Vichy Black Musician Automata, circa 1890, modeled as a boy and girl playing banjo and accordion respectively, with papier-mache heads, smiling mouths with painted teeth, fixed brown paperweight eyes, articulated eyelids and original black hair wigs, the girl with bisque hands, the boy with papier-mache hands, both with gracefully-sculpted bare feet, seated on matching gilt high stools with blue velvet covering, metal-thread corner tassels, and separate two-air going-barrel movements causing both figures to nod their heads and look from side to side while blinking and nonchalantly swinging their feet in the air, the boy playing the banjo with his right hand, the girl moving both hands to play the accordion, the boy in original striped two-tone blue silk tailcoat over red wool jersey, cream open-collar shirt, and plaid taffeta breeches, the girl in plaid silk turban with matching sash at waist of original yellow silk dress with crepe sleeves, collar, and ruched bodice, ht. approx. 24 in.
Literature: Bailly, Automata, The Golden Age, p. 237
Note: Illustrated together in the Vichy catalogue, the "petite negre and petite negresse" are rarely found as a pair. Although the same bodies and movements were used for the two figures, there are subtle differences in the modeling of their heads, the girl having a more delicate mouth and the boy fuller cheeks and chin. The complimentary colors of their costumes, their operatic repetoire (the girl plays two airs from Carmen and the boy two from Faust), and the decoration of their bases suggest that the two figures are a very rare example of a true pair of automata, of which only a handful of others are known.
Estimate $40,000-60,000


Gustave Vichy Black Musician Automata, metal-thread corner tassels, Banjo, Bluegrass music, Silk, Taffeta, Tailcoat