Automata the golden age: 1848-1914 By Christian Baily 2003 edition Robert Hale London
This spectacular book, the first to be devoted entirely to the period of the automaton’s apogee, is an essential addition to the library of the collector, the specialist, and all who are interested in automata. An introductory chapter depicts the Paris in which automaton-makers lived and worked, its atmosphere, preoccupations and amusements. There follow the little-known histories of the seven leading makers, from their foundation in the mid-century to the decline of production after the First World War. This information is the result of the author’s pioneering researches into commercial archives, the contemporary press, and personal documents of automaton-makers’ descendants. Here for the first time names, dates and chronologies are accurately established to give a reference framework of inestimable value. In the automaton – happy product of the exuberant creativity of the artist and the exquisite craftsmanship of the artisan – sculpture, painting, music, costume and mechanics all play a part. The automata of nineteenth-century France embody their age in a wonderfully immediate fashion. In their gestures and attitudes the nineteenth century comes almost literally alive: in homely figures such as the rosy-cheeked nanny walking the baby, or the pretty seamstress at pains over her work; in ingenious larger-than-life creations – lustily acrobatic clowns, mystifying conjurors, melancholy Pierrots, Mephistopheles himself; and still other pieces express the era of great international exhibitions and colonial conquests, and its fascination with the exotic. Over 150 automata are illustrated in color photographs; and a substantial selection of pages from catalogues of the period in facsimile show many further pieces in monochrome.
Condition: two scratches on dustjacket. Everything else excellent.
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