Musical automaton "Gentleman on the phone"

    Musical automaton "Gentleman on the phone"

    France, Paris

    Circa 1910

    Henry Phalibois

    Papier-mache, fabric (silk), wood, metal, glass; painting, sewing, mechanical and carpentry works

    104 x 83 x 66 cm, 35 kg


    Figure of a man talking on the phone is fixed on wooden lacquered rectangular socle. Vintage telephone mounted in round wooden case with metal lyre-shaped bracket is located on small bamboo table next to him. A screen is in the background, three wings of which are covered with striped wall canvas. The painted landscapes in oval windows are on the screen lateral panels’ upper sections. The man’s figure is dressed in black long-brimmed cloth frock coat with one button, dark striped trousers, pink waistcoat with goldish buttons, white shirt with placket and stand-up collar and colored striped bow tie. His head and hands are made of papier-mache and painted skin color, brown hair on the head and beard are from synthetic, blue glass eyes and eyelids are movable, eyebrows are painted. The man holds a telephone receiver in his right hand. When the handle winds the spring and activating lever located on the socle right side, is pulled out, the figure starts to move - the head is turned from side to side, the right hand is raised, bringing the receiver to the ear. Mouth and eyes move.

    The curtain turns on the screen left wing, and the new painted landscape closes the previous one. Then, in the same way, the landscape on the right wing is changed.

    The advertisement of the manufacturer's company - "PHILABOIS" illuminated from behind is opened in the center. After that, the conversation ends, the hand with the receiver descends and a trap door on the floor opens. Bellboy in red uniform jacket with golden buttons and red cap appears from the hatch. The boy holds in his hands cardboard sheet with the advertisement of the same company printed in black ink. After a few seconds, the hatch closes and the scene returns to the original position. The performance is accompanied by the sounds of musical mechanism with pinned cylinder and sound comb.