Important Watches, Wristwatches and C...

Hong Kong, Hotel Furama Kempinski, Jun 09, 1997

LOT 421

Jaquet Droz & Leschot, London, No. 1293, circa 1780, the watch and music, completed for the Chinese Market, circa 1840. "Playing at Thread the Needle" Fine and very rare silver gilt and enamel, pearl-set singing bird box with music and built-in centre seconds watch.

HKD 390,000 - 465,000

USD 50,000 - 60,000

Sold: HKD 878,000

C. Three body rectangular with rounded corners, fully engraved with a floral decoration with red and blue lacquered ornaments, the hinged cover set with split pearls on border and around the singing bird aperture the enamel lid of the bird finely painted by Richter with a charming scene depicting children "Playing at Thread the Needle " after a painting by William Hamilton, R.A., engraved by Bartolotti, the hinged lid of the front watch with split-pearl set bezel. D. White enamel with Roman numerals and outer minute and second ring. Blued steel "spade" hands. M. Brass rectangular double train, the free standing barrels with female winding squares, going train with cylinder escapement, brass escape wheel, plain brass three-arm balance, flat balance spring with regulator. Musical train with pin-disc and 20 steel teeth. Singing bird movement: Oval plates with turned pillars, fusee with chain, circular bellow, the bird with moving wings, tail and beak, controlled by a stack of 8 cams, inertia wheel regulator. Gilt brass engraved grill and outer gold protection grill, pierced and engraved with foliage. Signed on the protection grill. In very good condition. Dim. 113 x 71 x 43 mm.

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An identical singing bird box, but with mirror symmetr ical enamel painting on the lid of the bird and forming a pair with this one, is in the Musee Inleomalional d7lorlogerieat La Chaux-de- Fonds and described and illust r ated by Catherine Cardinal in her book: L'Horlogerie dap s l'Histoii'e, les Arts et les Sciences - Chefs d'oeuvre du Mnsde International d'Horlogerie de La Chaux-de-Fonds. Editions Scriptar, Lausanne 1983, page 68. The shape of the movements and the fine gilt protection grills of these two singing birds confirm that they were blanks destined to be mounted in the oval gold boxes of the type for which Jaquet Droz was so famous. The existence of the pail; virtually rules out the possibility that original gold boxes were destroyed later. The most plausable explanation is that they were left in stock, finished and cased in the fashion we now find them, in the mid 19th century. William Hamilton, R.A. (1751-1801) , was an English history and portrait painter, who became an associate of the Royal Academy in 1784 and a member in 1789. Hamilton travelled to Italy with Antonio Zucchi and lived there for several years. He paintecl many portraits of opera singers and did illustrations for various works, among which Boydell's Shakespeare, Bowyers' History of England, and Macklin's Bible. A number of his works are housed in museums. In London, many of his watercolours are in the South Kensington Museum, his portrait of John Wesley is in the National Portrait Gallery while several of his .S'hakespeare illustrations arc in The Victoria and Albert Museum. Jean Louis Richter (1766-1841) Ile learned his art tinder David-Etienne-Roux and Philippe- Samuel-Theodore Roux, becoming a most renowned enamel painter. IIis speciality was the painting of landscapes and particularly lake and marine scapes, often representing ships in a harbour or battles with lighting Men-of-War. He also painted portraits and hunting scenes. Although it may happen that his signature, in running hand-writing, appears on some of his work, more often than not his pantings are unsigned but can clearly be recognised as being in his hand from the style and quality of the work. He applied his art principally to watch cases and snuff boxes and these were largely destined for the Chinese, Turkish, British and Italian markets. Richter, like other great enamel painters of the time, often found inspiration for his work from paintings or engravings by the artists then in fashion, such as Van der Myn (1684-1741), Giovanni Battista Cipriani (1727-1785), John Francis Rigaud (1742-1820), John I-loffner (1748-1810) and Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815), or even from particularly Famous scenes such as the "Rape of Helen" from the engraving by Guido Reni (1575-1642), now in the Cabinet des Estampes, Paris.