Currently the only known example, the Tortoise-Charmer was influenced by the same interest in exotic dance and movement as two other Decamps automata of the same genre. The Snake-Charmer, of which only a handful are known, and the Cambodian Dancer, also believed to be unique, share similarities with the piece offered here. All three fall into the category of 'animated sculpture' associated with the period when the firm was run by the two brothers Paul and Gaston Decamps.
While Paul was responsible for the commercial side, Gaston looked after the artistry of automata production. A graduate of l'Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs and the Académie des Beaux Arts de Paris, Gaston had studied with the animal sculpture Frémiet before entering the family firm. His influence can be seen in the complex automata produced during this period, which demonstrate a fluidity of movement and strength of characterisation new to the company. The Tortoise-Charmer, like the Snake-Charmer, uses a combination of lifelike head movements and facial gesture to hypnotic effect. Unlike the Snake-Charmer and Cambodian Dancer, though, the mechanism of the automaton is entirely concealed within the body, adding greater charm and realism to his performance.