A rare antique silver plated intermittent-singing bird table jardinière-on-stand, by Bontems
The petit model, Bontems catalogue number 558
The singing garden of Babylon...
When wound and the start/stop rod turned, the perched bird within the garden sings beautifully, moving polished metal beak, flapping both wings, bobbing tailfeather and moving whole body from side-to-side, perfectly synchronised to the intermittent bird song, with a good few seconds pause between each phase.
The feathered plumaged bird with striking banded layers of black, red and dark blue, accentuated by bright flashes of green iridescent highlights, perched atop the polished gilt metal stem to the centre of a richly flowering garden. Within there are many trails of branches with pressed flowers, silk leaves and fern tips, all on rolling mossy crop which spills over the jardinière perimeter of the rectangular finely pierced and fretted silver plated base.
The sides each of pierced and chased panels of Putti, griffins and grotesque masks with red silk backed panels for colour reveal, corners with further griffin heads on open scrolls, fan aprons to front and rear, on the delicate and beautifully proportioned stand with shaped square supports, joined by a pair of arcs and central stretcher.
The start/stop turn to left-hand side and the winding spindle with the long-reach key to underside-centre.
size - 4.1/2in. wide, 3.1/4in. deep, 6in. high - (11.5 x 8.2 x 5.2cm)
Point of Interest:
This model first appeared in late 1900 in the Bontems catalogue under listing number 558. The smallest and rarest of the few singing bird jardinières they made, the original price was a, now completely modest, 200 French Francs.
The intermittent feature is a very clever feature of the movement, which holds the reservoir still until a little amount of air escapes for the governor to be realised before repeated the process until the spring is devoid of power.
An intermittent feature brings out the very best in realism for singing birds, for in the natural world, the art of the song of birds is in the timing.
The bird is set off superbly within the miniature garden - the dawn chorus performed within the correct environment.
Have a look at the illustration of the plate containing this model from Bontems.