Mechanical Birds and Singing Bird Boxes

Cage with two singing birds

    Cage with two singing birds

    France, Paris

    Circa 1890

    Bontems, Blaise

    Brass, wood, porcelain, steel, leather, painted feathers; wood carving, mechanical work, over glaze polychrome painting, gilding, gold plating

    43 x 26.5 x 25 cm

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    Cage made of thin metal rods with dome without suspension is mounted on square gilded socle with bevelled corners, standing on eight ornately shaped feet.


    The cage is comprised from eight (four wide and four narrow) arched sections, separated by thin fluted gilded columns with ornately shaped bases and finials. The sections are united by a series of arches decorated with foliage ornament at the top. Cast gilded figures of birds are on the arches of wide sections. Painted rectangular porcelain inserts featuring pastoral scenes are on the socle sides, with the plinth ornated with carved ovaries. The inserts are rimmed by gold and blue enamel frames. Carved figurines of birds with folded wings in rectangular windows are on bevelled corners. T-shaped tubular rack enlaced with wire branch with artificial leaves is fixed on the cage base covered with light-colour fabric. Mechanical bird in blue and black plumage with blue head sits on the rack. The second bird in blue, black, orange and blue-green feathers is sits below. Winding hole is in the right lateral side, protruding activating lever is under the bottom below winding key. Cam mechanism with bellows, small piccolo pipe, movable piston and spring drive is mounted inside the socle. The spring is key winded. When the movement is winded and activated, the birds chirrup, turn their heads, open and close their beaks simultaneously with the movements of their tails. Winding key is in the set.

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    Инв.1054.1-2ММП/ДПИ