Musical automaton "Violin player in bell-glass aquarium"

    Musical automaton "Violin player in bell-glass aquarium"

    France, Paris

    circa 1865

    Jean-Marie Phalibois

    Papier-mache, wood, metal, fabric, lace; sewing, mechanical works, painting, wood works, carving

    34 х 20.5 х 20.5 cm


    Perched upon an ebony-finished octagon-shaped wooden box is a bell-glass aquarium with a bubble-glass inside dome and a brass fretwork rim. Posed inside the bubble-glass is a dainty bisque-head musician with sculpted brown hair, painted facial features, wooden limbs, wearing original silk costume with gilt-paper trim, and holding a violin.
    When the string at the front is pulled, it activates the musical and mechanical movements hidden inside the wooden base: the musician plays his violin, and turns his head from side to side, while two tunes play.
    The parlor aquarium became popular phenomenon during that time with numerous experiments in style and design. The bell-glass was one of those designs, and this automaton carries the idea one-step further by imagining an "underwater" musician whose performs for the goldfish that would be swimming around him.