A fine and very rare silver-gilt and pictorial enamel Memento Mori singing bird box, by Karl Griesbaum,
model number 7A,
Serial number 1909,
Remember your mortality...
When wound and white enamel infilled bird-form start/stop slide moved to the right, the birds pops up proudly through chased rosehead gilt grille, then
moves metal beak, wings and body from side-to-side to continuous synchronised birdsong.
The bird with bronze-brown, purple and corn-yellow feathered plumage, chevron-layered green iridescent highlights, and bird reflected from polished silver lid interior, in exceptional silver-gilt case with the painted enamel tribute study of a late spring bird lying beside eggs in nest with grapes and rhubarb bush, main lid with rotting vine fruits tied with ribbons failed from the harvest, single white enamel frame and quatre-line tooled frieze to silver-gilt edge and border, front with plated and dressed lobster which has been set to fester with flies and other insects tucking in to their feast, with opposing blue enamel panels below further blue enamel frieze all with bar engine-turning beneath, hidden key compartment at rear with painted enamel study of further but better looking vine fruits with complimenting blue enamel panels and frieze, white enamel framing, corners of multi-fluted columns with fan cluster capitols, subtle clipper blue enamel highlights, underside with zig-zag dot-wave engraved panel.
4in. wide, 2.3/4in. deep, 1.3/4in. high - (10.2 x 7 x 4.5cm)
Point of interest -
A very unusual subject matter to choose. Memento Mori, or Remember your mortality, suggests that viewers of this box are to be reminded that life as one currently knows it does not last forever - rather a chain of life which dies off in specific stages with the scavengers feeding off parts which are no longer any use. The subtlety of how the artist has completed this brief is to be admired. We nearly missed what was going on until one looks very closely at the detail.
As always, no artist signature appears on the box, but for the quality seen here, it would have been Griesbaum's very best. Not one area shows damage or wear, making this a very rare piece for two obvious reasons.