An exceptional exhibition gold, enamel and pictorial enamel singing bird box, by Jacques Bruguier,
Swiss, circa 1835
Full size version, Serial number 145
The gold Bruguier - the stunning symbol beyond compare
When wound and the gold start/stop slide moved to the right, the bird lid opens up and the bird rises through very finely pierced, tooled and chased gold grille, moving beak, head, wings, bobbing tailfeather and whole body from side-to-side.
The bird with outstanding brightly book-matched layered plumage in lime green, electric green, mustard, dark brown, red and turquoise, superbly accompanied by plenty of iridescent highlights in hues of further green, bronze, red and mauve, to the 1-1-2-2-3-3-4 sequential birdsong from 8-cam stack lasting approximately 32 seconds, the movement spring loafer signed Jacques Bruguier Rue Bonivard 6 Á Geneve with two repairer's marks next to this including Cartier, the gold grille with foliate leaves, flower heads and Rococo scroll tips, indented bird-form centrum with solid border, slight concave lid interior highly polished for focussed bird reflection, the border with a double row of arrow tips tooled with intermediate horizon line above petit-point, bird lid with the very rare deep-perspective painted enamel study of a magnificent garden with circular two-tier fountain on stone bridge over babbling brook, roses, primroses and dahlia heads proudly in foreground, before weeping willow to brook bank and mature trees taking the eye towards the distance where remote lakeside fortress with sailing boat is lit by the late afternoon sun covering mountains beyond, the main lid with twin crest panels superbly tooled with much detail of union swags, leaf sprays and curls, middle ground tooling of Rococo scrolls joining line framing all infilled in gorgeous deep cobalt blue enamel with swirl engine turning below, edges with corresponding swirl tooling with scroll terminals and miniature double band diamond frieze below, shaped corners each with slender mitre heads and fan centres, the front and all sides with tooled diamond frieze with polished centres, petit-point form and zig-zag outer profiles to achieve the three tones seen when box is rotated, double twin bands and the corners with diamond columns and tooth frieze rebates, underside with intertwined and scroll headed cartouche with plain cat's eye centre, flower blooms everywhere to border and as sprays to the four corners, all on textured point ground, hidden key compartment to rear having total invisibility.
size - 3.5/8in. wide, 1.3/8in. high, 2.3/8in. deep, (9.3 x 3.5 x 6.1cm)
Point of interest -
Gold singing bird boxes are considered the meilleur of oiseau chantants, for the higher-level collector lucky enough to be offered one. But most eyes simply gaze at the few gold examples in global museums and public collections.
In the last decade at international auctions of good note, only a select handful of pieces vetted by professionals as being from this period have come to light and all of them have touched realised figures appropriate to their quality.
This particular model of case, with the design centred on the use of tooled and relief scrolls infilled with deep cobalt blue enamel is seen in two sizes. A three-quarter size with fewer scrolls to main lid and .1/8-inch smaller in every direction and then this, with the union scrolls front and back to main lid and the double diamond frieze above the larger vertical diamonds tooled all the way around the base.
The tooling here is exceptional. A breath-taking visual display accomplished by a very sharp point used mostly freehand to build up the design, with the surrounding patterns executed by the same tool, but held at a different angle from the first stage. This technique creates the 3-D effect seen, by altering the tone of the gold, from light to dark when rotating slowly.
Crisp birdsong with typical complex and pacey melody, Bruguier has certainly put everything into this piece to make it as special on the inside as it is on the outside. A fine creature of great rarity and respect-commanding powers.