Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Miniature secretary incorporating a watch

Entrepreneur:
James Cox (British, ca. 1723–1800)
Date:
ca. 1766–72
Culture:
British, London
Medium:
Case: agate, with gold mounts, gilded brass, pearls, and paste jewels set in silver; Dial: white enamel; Movement: wheel balance and cock set with paste jewels
Dimensions:
Overall (confirmed): 12 1/8 × 5 3/4 × 4 1/8 in. (30.8 × 14.6 × 10.5 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Gold and Platinum
Credit Line:
Gift of Admiral F, R. Harris, in memory of his wife, Dena Sperry Harris, 1946
Accession Number:
46.184a–c
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 510
Bejeweled butterflies and flowers that tremble in the slightest breath of air adorn this whimsical object, which plays tunes on a hidden music box and incidentally tells the time. The spring mechanism that powers the music is wound by inserting a key into a hole hidden behind one of rosettes near the bulls that support the cabinet. Based on actual rococo European cabinet designs, but with some improbable additions, the miniature is known to have been in the collection of Princess Z. M. Youssoupof in Saint Petersburg in 1904. Although it has been said to have been taken from China after the Boxer Rebellion in 1899, it may, in fact, have been imported into Russia long before.
Signature: Signed on dial: JAS. COX/LONDON
sold by lottery in 1773 to Private Collection, London ; [ possibly Peter Carl Fabergé ; probably sold to Youssoupof ] ; Princess Z. M. Youssoupof , St. Petersburg (before 1904–after 1905) ; Count Gregor Stroganov , St. Petersburg (before 1931) ; [ Wartski and Co. (after 1931–after 1937) ] ; Edward Bradshaw , London ; [ A La Vieille Russie (before 1944–46) ] ; Rear Admiral Frederic R. Harris (until 1946; to MMA)
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