The Art of Horology in Geneva

Geneva, Hotel Des Bergues, Nov 13, 1999

LOT 77

Piguet & Capt, Geneva, the box by Jean-Georges Rémond, the enamel painted by Jean-Louis Richter, circa 1810.Extremely fine and rare pair of 18K gold and enamel, snuffboxes with automaton scene and a built-in watch.

CHF 300,000 - 400,000

Sold: CHF 300,500

C. Both rectangular with canted corners, the hinged central enamel panel of the lids respectively painted with scenes depicting children at play, side panels disclosing the watches and the automaton scenes, decorated with the profile figures of Socrate and Minerva (Virtue), painted en grisaille over a scarlet ground on one of the boxes, antique figures over an azure ground on the other, blue flinqué side and base panels and further champlevé enamelled decoration. D. White enamel with Arabic numeals and subsidiary seconds. Blued steel "spade" hands. The blue enamelled dial-plate with champlevé decoration.M. Rectangular, gilt brass full plate, with cylindrical pillars, going barrel, cylinder escapement with plain gilt brass three-arm balance, flat balance spring and steel end-piece. Automaton scenes: identical on both boxes: a painted enamel landscape with an automaton windmill turning in the background; each of the varicoloured gold automaton scenes featuring stonemasons at work. Automata driven by independent trains, by means of cams and levers.Signed on the movements.Dim. 72 x 35 x 13 mm.

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Grading System
Case: 3 - 21
Movement: * 3
Dial: 3 - 17 - 01


These boxes, although undoubtedly made as a pair, are unusual in having different scenes on the lids, albeit involving similar characters, in general the subjects are simply reversed.Previously in the John Asprey Collection, this watch was part of the exhibition in New York, ASPREY, 725 Fifth Avenue: Magic, Musical and Motion, an exhibition of rare 18th and 19th century watches, boxes and automata, from the Asprey private collection,No. 24 and 25, p. 35 of the catalogue.Piguet & CaptFrom Ventôse An X (1802), to 1811, Daniel Isaac Piguet formed a partnership with Henry-Daniel Capt, native from the same village. Their signature was Piguet & Capt à Genève.Jean-Louis Richter (1766-1841)He learned his art under David-Etienne-Roux and Philippe-Samuel-Théodore Roux, becoming a most renowned enamel painter. His speciality was the painting of landscapes and particularly lake and marine scapes, often representing ships in a harbour or battles with fighting 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 recognisedas being in his hand from the style and quality of the work. He applied his art principally to watch cases and snuffboxes and these were largely destined for the Chinese, Islamic, 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 Hoffner (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.