Saturday, June 14, 2014

An Exceptional Automaton Coming Up For Auction

Saturday, June 14, 2014
        Varied weather with sun 
           at the end of the day

An Exceptional Automaton 
Coming up for Auction

  Sometimes I receive mail that I read and then check out further. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from  Mr. Igor Olho-Azul from the VERITSAS Art Auctioneers of Portugal.  The message was a simple one asking the reader to check out "an important and rare Automaton (Zulma, La Charmeuse de Serpent de Gaston Decamps)". I only ever hears of the word and item called an automaton when I started to write this blog. For those of you who don't know, an automaton is a mechanical device (usually a figure) that  is programmed to do a series of different movements through a gearing system hidden within the base or the body of the figure.

   Naturally, being a curious person, I ventured to the VERITAS website and took a look. The series of photos were excellent, but the actual item was in face a masterpiece. I checked out the name of Gaston Decamps, and  he himself and his father before him were exceptional automaton makers and craftsmen.

   I had to write back to Mr. Igor Olho-Azul, and ask if I might use his fine photos to present this fabulous item that will be coming to auction on June 24, 2014.  Igor wrote me back the same day, and gave me the necessary permission to use his high-quality photography.  I forgot to ask Igor for his permission to present this fine item against white, so if he says no, I will replace my changes with the originals. There was also a red colour cast over the image which could be due to how my computer receives the images. As a result, I decided to present Igor's original image "as is", and the ones I placed against white.

I would highly recommend that you either look at the images of this post in Blogger slide mode, or visit the VERITAS website. The detail and the hand painted details of the snake charmer is exceptional.

Here's my white background  rendition of this fine piece.

 You'll have to excuse the grey shading on the side of the snake charmer's head. Her hair is very fine, and I would have had a lot of trouble separating the background from the hair. 
You can see how fine her hair is here. But the detail of the snake, her fine dress, the pose of her hands, and even her feet and toes are just fantastic.

Her feet pose  are very "classic" for the time.

This is a rear view of the snake charmer's feet, as well as the wind-up crank for the automaton.

This is another rear view but of the entire automaton. It's amazing that the snake has stayed together after all these years!

Here is the actual description of the item (Look at the size of this item!):

Rare automaton with winding mechanism and four melodies, resin and card face and body with joints hidden by jewels of oriental inspiration in gilt metal and paste .
On a painted wood base with coin slot and velvet carpet in green and red embroidered in metal yarn .This model shows the snake-charmer in a silk embroidered gown girded by a scarf .
When in movement the figure dances to the music and the snake’s head moves at the same rhythm. 
(defects, working mechanism but in need of revision) 
Height: 92cm    
3 feet 3/16"

Note: “La Charmeuse de Serpent” best known as Zulma was Gaston Decamps first creation and is considered one of his most important works. Some “Zulma” copies are today kept at both private and public collections (Madame de Galéa Collection, Monaco National Museum, Musée de l’Automate, Souillac) being the ones with coin slot considered the rarest.

I managed to find an excellent website that has a page titled:
"The Fabulous World of Automatons

The link is below:

The biography of Gaston Decamps and his family is just as interesting as his exceptional creations that have been around for so long.

Thanks for dropping by,
and as always,
have a great part of the day or night,
wherever you may be.

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