The museum-standard ormolu-bronze and Sevres-plaques double singing birds-in-cage, by Bontems
Fine Going-barrel movement,
The exceptionally important Bontems cage,
When wound with the key and start/stop lever actuated, the large and beautifully feathered plumaged taxidermy perched bird, with lower positioned twin, take turns and to perform solo, with turning heads, opening and closing natural beaks and bobbing tailfeathers, to the slight-paused continuous birdsong. The perched bird takes the lead, with the lower joining in to duet 2nd and 4th phrases on the passage programme.
The perched bird whose species Bontems only used on their very best creations, in bright rippled turquoise, jet black, electric and dark blue with a band of gold coloured feathered plumage, full natural legs upon wide gilt brass T- bar perch decorated in ivy leaves, his twin upon the ground with very similar plumage with deeper and wider fields of the luxurious blue instead of gold, also on his natural legs, both with light brown glass eyes, on the extraordinary deep-buttoned cream silk covered base with ridged folds for diamond-form pattern, buttons of red silk wound around bone beads.
Under the monumental and exceptionally important ormolued-bronze cage with gilded hoop and Rococo-frieze boss, square cantered-cornered profile, top of each side with eight branch bar arches with small circular bars in between, tooled arched band joining the top dome and the eight cupped urn finials atop the eight plunging fluted columns complimented beautifully by the outstretched bird-in-flight appliqués to band bar centres, petit floral swag drops underneath.
Each canted corner bearing a hung-necked griffin creature in upright pose to exquisite detail, plinth edge with fine acanthus leaf frieze, and the entire field to the centre of each base side with inset rectangular Servré panels, with scenes of figures, mostly couples relaxing and performing music against the backdrop of a lake, a folly beside a meadow, with mature trees and a classical garden, framed with near-perfect parcel gilt and blue borders, key entry to one corner of the side panel, base edge with cast wide egg-and-dart frieze, on bun feet.
The underside with an incridable surprise of a near-intact Bontems exhibition prize medal maker's label, pasted up to the edge of one half of the plain polished gilt under-plate. With Bontems' full address on the Rue de Cléry, all the places where medals were awarded with the year, illustrations of models - including the single version of this one. Last dated medal honour listed as 1877.
Size - 21.1/2in. high, 10in. square - (54.5cm x 25.5 x 25.5cm)
Point of interest -
A double singing birds in cage which will leave you speechless.
The quality that can only be hone from pieces archived away and/or on display in museums, private collections of the most revered, not to mention a special cluster of objects which are out there somewhere, but suddenly found and made to introduce themselves to the world - and here it is.
We wondered if we were to ever see a double type of this model, and yet this has so much more. The very first time the original maker's medal award label has been seen actually on the object itself. This not only confirms its position, but gives it a diffinitive date of manufacture of between 1877 and 78 - the next such medal they would be awarded was to be Paris 1879.
The buttoned silk base is a charming difference to the single-toned velvet base usually seen, or perhaps even a chased gilt panel. This very soft, textured field, brings a new dimension to the whole ensemble, with yet another colour - red - introduced. The cream silk, now fraying, cushions the slender forms of each bird and due to material fragility, an original feature we are so very lucky to see today.
The birds used for these finest models are usually the same - bright turquoise, full taxidermy and with the natural legs retained for the support.
This example features untouched ormolu and Servés panels, retaining the period parcel gilding to such a degree, it may be suggested they are all, just like the cage and movement itself, in perfect condition.
This piece is not to be underestimated at any cost.