Of life size, this mouse darts forward, twirls nervously fearing a concealed cat, then scampers in a different direction before, reassured, it pauses to nibble at an invisible morsel and sets off once again. He took over the former premises of Cox's Museum, the Great Promenade Rooms in Spring Gardens Proprietor: Mr Wigley, 'Inventor and Manufacturer of Elastic Spring Bands'. The tools belonged to the two partners equally, Maillardet was to receive a salary of £27 annually and the same sum for each of the workmen or apprentices that he needed to feed and house. Although Henri Maillardet and his showman partners exhibited the small animals, and members of his family also exhibited similar automata throughout Europe in the first part of the 19th century, it is still not certain who exactly was responsible for their inception and construction. All are set with graduated pearls but are enamelled in a variety of colours including pale blue, dark blue and dark grey. Certainly from their style the smaller pieces appear to have had at least their beautifully-enamelled and bejewelled gold exteriors created in Geneva but whether the movements were invented and made by Maillardet as was traditionally believed, remains an open question.Next
Success was short-lived as the firm was in trouble by the late 80s and in liquidation in both London and Geneva after Pierre Jaquet-Droz's death in 1790 and that of his son Henri-Louis in 1791. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. . The present mouse with its white enamelled fur is a true Siberian mouse, whose grey fur was believed to turn white in winter to make it invisible in the snow. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. A rare and charming automaton. Born at Meyriez in Switzerland, in 1745, Henri and his two brothers are said to have been trained in the Jaquet-Droz workshops before establishing themselves as clockmakers in the village of Fontaines.Next
It is still disputed as to whether both the large and small automatons were the work of Maillardet himself, the Maillardet family or supplied to Maillardet by an unknown maker. There is no doubt that the creator had plenty of experience in watching live mice. Certainly, like the others and often through circumstances outside their control, his career teetered precariously between success and more frequent financial difficulty. The years between 1791 and 1798 were spent by Leschot in Geneva and Maillardet in London, attempting unsuccessfully to recreate the earlier successes of Jaquet-Droz and Leschot. Maillardet, then a bachelor, was employed to run the firm's London business and workshop in Bartlett's Buildings. As mentioned above the left ear and bristle whiskers have been replaced and the key is modern. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
Only eight or nine automaton mice are known to have survived and are now or were formerly owned by a number of important collections including the Bowes Museum, Co. By 1798, Henri Maillardet seems to have changed direction and set himself up as a showman. At that date it was considered an old-fashioned object and was purchased by Garrards for 24 guineas, which is roughly equivalent to half the current low estimate. Durham, the Sandoz collection, now at Le Locle, Sir David Salomons collection, Jerusalem, and the Patek Philippe Museum, Geneva. Henry Maillardet is a well-known but rather misty figure in the world of automata in comparison with his more famous associates: James Cox, Pierre and Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz and Jean-Frédéric Leschot. Henry and Jean-David are recorded in 1769 as pendulistes under Huguenin working for Frederick the Great in Berlin. The movement has been restored with some elements replaced and is currently functioning although Sotheby's does not guarantee its continued working.Next
Here, gradually acquiring new attractions, he showed his 'Wonderful Automatons. Otherwise the mouse is in excellent condition with crisp chasing, original pearls and largely undamaged enamel. On the strength of this, Henry married Louise Mourer of Lausanne; their daughter, Louisa Henrietta, was christened at St Andrew, Holborn on 20 March 1785 and their son, Edward Frederick, on 21 August 1786. One small pearl and some exterior screws have been replaced. Gélis, Le Monde des Automates. Chapuis, 'Les Maillardet', Musée Neuchatelois, 1917-18; A.Next
Altick, The Shows of London, Cambridge, 1978; A. . . . .Next
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