An extremely rare life-size antique musical walking and fantail-displaying Indian peacock automaton, by Roullet & Decamps,
French, circa 1895,
A true and pure display of eye-catching naturalistic brilliance of our feathered friend. To attract his new owner perhaps...
When wound and start/stop lever actuated, the male Indian Pavo cristatus proceeds to walk forward whilst turning head quickly to the left then slowly to the right, stopping suddenly to raise his warding eye-adorned feathered plumage the full height and fanning out for the surprise display, pausing with this stance for a few seconds before the feathered fan closes down and the feathers overlap to form the tailfeather cluster and he walks with pride once more, with head turning and legs finding his way with pure and true naturalistic purpose, all accompanied by a single musical air from cylinder movement with going-barrel drive within the papier-mâché body with complete peacock plumage to all aspects including underbelly and tall cropped stalks to top of head, naturalistic beak and glass eyes, and when not in use to convey his outstanding performance, the automaton is housed within the original maker's red felt fitted carriage case, with complete spare set of peacock feathers for fantail, block stile holding bar for secure transit once fixed into position with bar pins, tin banded clad canted-domed top profile with black finished cloth covered pine-planked construction and harsp & staple to front, folding iron carrying handles to sides, the lid bearing the oval Roullet & Decamps factory stamped plate reading ROULLET & DECAMPS AUTOMATES 10 RUE DU PARC ROYAL PARIS.
the display height 19in., display width 25in., (48.3 x 63.5cm)
length when tailfeather 20in., width when tailfeather 17in., (50.8 x 43.2cm)
height from feet to top of head 12in., (30.5cm)
The case - 26in. wide, 20.1/2in. deep, 17.1/2in. high, (66 x 52 x 44.4cm)
Point of interest -
The most sought-after Roullet & Decamps automaton from their animal model catalogue (see Automaton - The Golden Age, C. Bailly p. 285), the main attraction of this is the pure realism of the peacock and how, even after so many years, he can still fool many into believing he is real. Look at the way he moves.
The R & D catalogue shows they made three versions of the peacock, with a small model, a medium sized model and a large full-size model with musical accompaniment. This perhaps made the best commercial sense, following the breakthrough in the design of their displaying fantail - limiting that to one model may have displaced the interest in the other animal models they had to offer.
Sourcing the peacock feathers from complete birds would not have been easy for large production runs, so these were strictly made either on commission or in very small numbers to begin with, pending purchaser interest.
Our peacock works beautifully, a completely untouched and superb example of how, during this Golden Age of automata manufacturing, the ideas created in the minds of those who ran the workshops were brought to life in a big and realistic way. The effort to achieve the almost impossible by making from scratch an animal this real has to be commended and here, for the world to see, we now present the Roullet & Decamps musical peacock automaton in all its glory. He even comes in the factory carriage case, a sure first in the world of antique automata and a key feature of something extra special.
Prepare to be amazed when you see this in person and close up.
You are warmly welcomed to make his acquaintance...