An outstanding gold, enamel and split seed pearl embellished musical harp with hidden scent bottle
Swiss movement most probably by Piquet
Austro-Hungarian case by Josef Weichberger
Early type Barillet movement,
A stunning musical rarity for the true virtue collector...
When wound by the tiny key to the spindle underside and equally small start/stop lever to base side, the music starts to play from the movement within, whilst the listener unclips the hidden side compartment which opens to reveal the captive glass scent bottle.
This very special piece with the Barillet musical movement playing a single traditional air, with typical integral spring to pinned cylinder, fully counter-sunk Geneva stop-work, four-cam rundown wheels between shaped plates to the plain polished oval bedplate and fittings with blued screws, perpendicular mounted stack of eight teeth, within the base of the very accurately modelled harp, with 26 spun twist gold strings each with tuning pegs and 'key-change' dowels, the column head of hexagonal form with floral trefoil top in red and white enamels, shaped string beam with peg details to both sides, deep twist profile column with the highly polished inset beautifully placed against the ridged clipper blue enamel infil, capped with applied acanthus leaves in blue and engine turned red enamels, on further red and blue engine-turned ground, finished with high-relief blue leaves and geometrically mounted split seed pearls, the soundboard wedge with top twined panels each with finely painted robed maidens with lyres and above them a pair of winged Putti keep watch as they dance with flowing ribbons, all on delicately toned cream ground, textured to the edges for the naturalistic impression of clouds, the back of curved form with central musical score of two staves in white enamel framed within open laurel leaf crest and accompanied with intertwining swags of multi-coloured flowers, acorns and leaves in tooled gold set on to the superbly executed diamond tooled ground layered with red enamel, raised compartment catch opening the central panel with polished internal plate and the oval glass scent bottle with both ends mounted in gold, cork stopper, harp base with hinged back for movement access, top plate with pierced and chased sound-hole panel, side with complete frieze of stylised snowdrops on vine on the repeated red enamel ground, ridged base edge, on three scrolled feet with shell tops, underside with hallmarks including makers mark JW.
size - 3.5/8in. high, base depth 1.1/4in., base width 1in., max depth to centre 2in., the cylinder diameter .9/16in, -
(9.2 x 3.2 x 2.5 x 5.0 x 1.4cm)
Point of interest -
Gold and enamel musical harps become available to the international market very rarely. Their manufacturing numbers were very small and their survival rate much less.
As such, finding authentic, period and finely executed pieces from this important period of the 19th century is unusual and as the five-odd recent examples sold at auction around the world in the past ten years demonstrates, the prices can be surprising.
The detail of the many components which make up the complex form of the concert harp is seen in great miniature here. Each tuning peg has been shaped and applied, each string created by twisting two strands of spun gold together and then affixed just as in real life and to top it all, the delicate music made to sound so good from a movement so tiny, one wonders how several of the parts were made at all.
The case maker, Josef Weichberger flourished between 1840 to around 1880. Famed for his early commission work, he was clearly looking to the likes of makers such as Moulinié et Bautte of the late 1700s/early 1800s for inspiration. He has created here one of the best musical harps examples from the middle of the 19th century yet seen.
You are very welcome to look and listen further.