Musical automaton "Banjo player"

    Musical automaton "Banjo player"

    France, Paris

    Circa 1890

    Vichy, Gustave

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

    Height 51 cm


    Musical automaton in the form of a banjo player bust, modelled as a young black man with smiling expression, dimpled cheeks, articulated tongue and "dancing" leather eyelids, green paperweight eyes, pierced ears, black mohair wig and composition hands playing five-string banjo, two-tunes going-barrel movement with steel Vichy key and stop/start button in the torso, on ebonized plinth, dressed in green velvet jacket, gold satin collar and bowtie. The banjo-player turns and nods his head, winks his eyes alternately, sticks of his tongue and strums with his right hand. Occasionally, he pauses, lifts his arm high into the air and thumbs his nose cheekily at the audience.
    Vichy intended this piece as the companion to his automaton bust of a lady playing the lyre. Bronze busts of sculptor Emile Guillemin (1841–1907) might have inspired them.