The movement plate of the present box is bearing the hallmark of the celebrated Frères Rochat, acknowledged masters in the making of these complex mechanisms. The sumptuous case was made in the workshop of Joly, Chenevard & Joyet in Geneva, and last but not least the wonderful quality of the enamel decoration illustrates the celebrated art of enamel miniatures originating from Geneva in the early 19th century. It was not unusual during that period that an artist would not sign his work.
Les Frères Rochat
The brothers François-Elisée, Frédéric and Samuel-Henri Rochat were active in Geneva from around 1800 to 1835. Apprenticed by their father Pierre Rochat in Brassus, they worked as watchmakers for Jaquet-Droz et Leschot before moving to Geneva in order to set up their own business. The highly talented brothers quickly joined the illustrious elite of the greatest makers of the highly complex singing bird mechanisms and automaton watches which they supplied also to other manufacturers, notably Jaquet-Droz et Leschot. The Rochats were famous for their perfection of the singing bird mechanism by adding larger amounts of cams, hence rendering the bird's movements more natural, and for the enhancing of the quality of the sound by using piston rods.
Their work was often decorated with painted enamel scenes, pearls and precious stones and comprised watches, three colour gold snuff boxes, automatons and others, the enamel miniatures often made by celebrated artists such as Isaac Adam, Jean-Abraham Lissignol, Jean-François-Victor Dupont and Jean-Louis Richter. Amongst their most celebrated pieces are a pair of pistols with singing birds, a finely decorated bird cage with singing bird, a sumptuous mirror with singing bird, a telescope with watch, musical automaton and singing bird, and a snuff box with watch, musical and singing bird.
A number of their objects can be found in Beijing's Imperial Palace but also in the world's most prestigious museums and private collections, notably the Musée de l'Horlogerie et de l'Emaillerie and the Patek Philippe Museum in Geneva, the Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Collection, the Sir David Salomons Collection and the Hans Wilsdorf Foundation, just to name some. A selection of objects made by Les Frères Rochat, property of the Edouard and Maurice Sandoz Collection, is on permanent exhibition at the Musée de l'Horlogerie du Locle, Switzerland. For illustrations and descriptions of a mirror, a pistol, a bird cage, snuff boxes and a walking stick holder, all with singing bird and signed Frères Rochat see Chefs d'Oeuvres de la Collection Sandoz, Musée de l'Horlogerie du Locle, Château de Monts, Cat. 37 - 38, 41 - 43.
For an extensive biography and history of the Rochat family and illustrations of various examples of their work see Flights of Fancy - Mechanical Singing Birds by Sharon & Christian Bailly, pp. 137 & 138, pp. 210 - 259.