25 May 2004,
London, South Kensington
Price realised GBP 17,925
GBP 15,000 - GBP 25,000
A rare Vichy automaton of a pumpkin eater
the papier-mâché with closed smiling mouth, double chin, narrow brown glass eyes, feathered brows and red mohair wig, standing on painted 'tiled' floor against wood-grained cupboard, a knife suspended in one hand over a large green pumpkin on a stool by his side, in original brocaded silk waistcoat with high collar, figured black silk back and mother-of-pearl buttons, apron, chef's hat, breeches and striped wool stockings, on circular base with going-barrel movement playing two airs -- 20in. (51cm.) high, (head, hat and hand movements inactive, music sticking, satin frayed on sleeves and apron)
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One of the rarest figures produced by Vichy, the Pumpkin Eater displays a darker humour than usual in French automata of this period. The figure waves his left arm and lowers his head to watch the pumpkin, the central section of which opens three times to reveal a mouse. On the third occasion he attempts to kill the mouse by plunging the knife into the pupkin while his hat rises simultaneously. The pumpkin closes and the sequence begins again.
VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium
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