Musical automaton "Trickster with shells", with winding crank

    Musical automaton "Trickster with shells", with winding crank

    France, Paris

    Circa 1860

    Théroude Alexandre

    Wood, metal, fabric (silk, velvet), cardboard; mechanical and carpentry works, turning, sewing, painting

    68 x 40.5 x 40.5 cm


    The automaton is mounted on a rectangular wooden veneered and lacquered podium. A canopy of red velvet, embroidered with gold fringe and tasseled cords, is  thrown over four chiselled columns with crossbar.
    Figure of a trickster in red satin camisole, decorated with pearl threads, rhinestones and gold foil appliqué stands under the canopy. The waist, hem and cuffs of the camisole are finished with green satin ribbon. A satin cloak with wide collar is draped on the trickster’s shoulders. A conical cap adorned with rhinestones, metal sequins and gold braid is on his head with grey wig and beard, moving black eyes; the hands are made from papier-mâché. A table draped with red velvet, with two apertures in the black tabletop is in front of the trickster. Black conical paper shell is on the table; the trickster holds two more shells in his hands. He covers the apertures in the tabletop with those shells. Another small low table with an oval tabletop, on which magical objects are placed, is closer to the viewer. When the automaton is activated, the trickster figure moves - his head turns from side to side, his eyes move, his mouth opens and closes as if to cast a spell. The hands of the trickster holding the shells are raised and lowered. Different objects - coloured balls, dice and different figures appear and disappear under the shells. Everything disappears for a while. The performance is accompanied by mechanical music. A winding handle is in the set.