A magnificent early vintage silver and full pictorial enamel singing bird box, by Karl Griesbaum
A deluxe variant of the No. 7 model,
Hark, the Greek cherubs are singing...
When wound and the white enamelled bird-form start/stop slide is actuated, the domed bird lid opens as the majestic bird appears through gilt grille, opening and closing fine bone beak, flapping both wings rapidly, bobbing tailfeather and turning body from side-to-side to the exceptionally loud and melodically amazing synchronised birdsong, ending when bird disappears and lid closes.
The bird with fiery all-over iridescent green and red feathered plumage, undernoted subtlety by dark brown, through gilt grille of the finest chased pierced form with full shaped detail including the bird-form centrum, all reflected in the highly polished lid interior.
In the extraordinary case from the few top-level deluxe models Griesbaum produced, with incised silver, the bird lid is domed and raised within the surround mount, with a study of three cherubs, one with flowers, one with lyre and the third with an empty cage having just released his feathered friend, upon a white fluffy cloud.
The main lid with similar angelic scenes of a topless maiden holding an infant with doves of peace, a heroic man with green toga holding bass lyre, three more cherubs playing music to a tree-perched songbird, all watched by three mature cherubs surrounded by sun-blessed clouded sky, framed by dark blue enamel border containing bronzed-flash berry frieze. The case with canted-corner profile, corners with triple fluted columns in white and clipper blue enamel infill, fiery orange tips to each.
Sides, front and back fielded panels with further cheerful angelic cherubs enjoying the life of adventure, with depictions of love and peace with flower and doves offered to each other, whilst two separate panels have individual cherubs riding upon huge fantastical sea fish, on slight stepped base, very well hidden key compartment to rear, and the underside with diamond criss-cross pattern engraved to centre frame.
Size - 4.1/8in. wide, 1.7/8in. high, 2.3/4in. deep - (10.5 x 4.8 x 7cm)
Point of Interest -
This is the finest silver and enamel example of Griesbaum we have seen, clearly based on the famous and much loved No. 7 model, seen always to the same shape but never with the same decoration or colour scheme on any two boxes.
This cantered-corner box is slightly larger than the standard No. 7 by .1/8in in any direction. The beak is not polished metal, but finely shaped and polished bone. Particular attention must be paid to the palette of colours used in the pictorial enamel, with the clouds almost floating in the air whilst these busy cherubs entertain each other as well as you the viewer.
Notice the key compartment at the back - the door bridging the picture left and right of the frame, not waiting for the frame to end. But cutting straight across, the division is harder to spot.
The birdsong so loud, the melodic phrases played is heard very cleanly; The movement being one of their more improved second mark, reserved for the better cases, or in this case we think, being a special commission. This work certainly deserved a higher degree of workmanship.
One of the few singing bird boxes where one will happily spend ages just looking at the case before the bird is brought to life. Its condition really is incredible.