Lot 252: (*) Frères Rochat / Georges Rémond & Compagnie à Genève, 85 x 60 x 28 mm, circa 1815
November 16, 2013
Mannheim, GermanyLive Auction
Description: An important half pearl-studded gold enamel musical singing bird box with automaton and quarter repeating clock, of museum quality: "Vertumnus and Pomona", made for the Chinese market - with green velvet-lined original box Case: 18k gold and enamel, third gold standard mark of Geneva 1809-1814. Case maker's punch mark "IGRC" in a lozenge (Jean-Georges Rémond & Compagnie à Genève) and "FR" in an oval (Frères Rochat). Rectangular box with rounded corners, all sides with translucent cobalt blue and opaque black enamelling over engraved flowerheads and leaf patterned engine-turnings, framed by borders with white, black and blue champlevé enamel with geometric decor, the rim of the lid studded with half pearls. The centre with a half pearl-set oval medallion with very fine miniature painting covering the bird:Roman gods "Vertumnus and Pomona", a popular subject from Ovid's Metamorphoses. The scene is after an engraving by Cornelis Vermeulen (1644 -1708), respectively after a painting by Antoine Coypel (1661-1722). It shows Vertumnus as a wrinkled old woman unsuccessfully attempting to woo Pomona. Rounded corners with acanthus flowers in white and black Champlevé enamelling, front with pearl-rimmed dial. The base with a slide to start the quarter repeater. Hinged front panel with florally engraved gold plate with devices for winding, setting and regulating the clock. Hinged key compartment on the left. Dial: white enamel, radial Roman hours, centre seconds, blued spade hands. Clock movement: rectangular brass movement, going barrel, cylinder escapement, three-arm gold balance, 2 hammers / 2 gongs. Singing bird movement: rectangular brass movement, chain/fusee, bellows, eight cams and a whistlewith sliding piston for the song's modulation. The cams rotate four times per song and lift one step every rotation, allowing a long duration of singing, the multicoloured feathered bird with moving wings, beak, and turning head rotating on its axis. It is facing the inside of the medallion which is mirror polished and concave, enlarging the bird in its reflection, gold engraved grill. Cam-controlled raising of the bird medallion and the bird, with five-wheel train finished by a pinion in eccentric bushing to regulate the speed of the opening and closing. The complicated mechanism allows for precision control of the raising of the bird and medallion, and its speed. Musical movement: brass, gilt, pin barrel, two stacks of eight tuned vibrating blades. "Vertumnus and Pomona" The presentation of the story by Ovid inspired the works of a great number of modern painters. Pomona was the Romangoddess of fruitful abundance and married to Vertumnus, god of seasons and plant growth, gardens and fruit trees. Vertumnus uses the disguise of an old woman to approach the shy Pomona who was more interested in looking after her trees than in men. He caresses her for a little while and then shows her an elm tree entwined by a vine with many grapes - he points out to Pomona that the tree would be by itself without the vine and that no one would come to visit the tree if it was not for the grapes. And vice versa it is the vine that needs the tree to provide it with a reliable support and shelter. Vertumnus in his disguise taunts Pomona because she spurns all her suitors and tells her to learn a lesson from the vine. The old woman begins to praise the god Vertumnus and calls him a noble soul and faithful as well as beautiful and refined. When Vertumnus finally shows himself, Pomona is sooverwhelmed by his eloquence that she offers no resistance to his advances. Source: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomona, as of 09/13/2013 Georges Rémond & Compagnie Jean-Georges Rémond was a goldsmith in Geneva and is recorded to have worked from 1783 until 1815 or 1820. He first used his master's mark in 1783, when he became a master on December 22. He presumably formed the company Georges Rémond & Cie. seven years later; later the company was renamed Rémond, Mercier, Lamy & Cie. During the French occupation of Switzerland by Napoleon Rémond used his initials within a lozenge as his mark, which was in accordance with the stipulations of the newly formed Département du Léman. Frères Rochat The Rochat Brothers, Ami Napoleon and Louis worked in Geneva between 1810 and 1835. They were trained by their father, Pierre Rochat, in the family workshop at a place called "Chet Meillan" anBrassus, in the Vallee de Joux lake region, Switzerland. At the beginning they worked for Jaquet-Droz and Leschot. After having lost their fortune in building speculations, they came to Geneva in 1815 and prospered again by making most curious marvels of small mechanics, which were highly appreciated by connoisseurs and sold to the principal courts of Europe. Ami Napoleon Rochat, the eldest son, made a speciality of the singing bird boxes which established the reputation of the name Rochat all over the world. The work was absolutely perfect, namely the singing, the extreme complication and smallness of the mechanism, the bird opening its beak and turning its head when singing. Provenance: This important singing bird box was part of the famous Lord Sandberg Collection and is described and illustrated in Terence Camerer Cuss' "The Sandberg Watch Collection", Geneva 1998, pages 296-297. Cond.: Case: very good, small restaurations. Dial: very good. Movm.: very good, capable of running, cleaning recommended.