Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Miniature secretary incorporating a watch

James Cox (British, ca. 1723–1800)
ca. 1766–72
British, London
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
Overall (confirmed): 12 1/8 × 5 3/4 × 4 1/8 in. (30.8 × 14.6 × 10.5 cm)
Metalwork-Gold and Platinum
Credit Line:
Gift of Admiral F, R. Harris, in memory of his wife, Dena Sperry Harris, 1946
Accession Number:
Not on view
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. , London, after 1931–after 1937 ] ; Edward Bradshaw , London ; [ A La Vieille Russie , before 1944–46 ] ; Rear Admiral Frederic R. Harris , New York (until 1946; to MMA)
Related Objects

Automaton in the form of a chariot pushed by a Chinese attendant and set with a clock

Artist: James Cox (British, ca. 1723–1800) Date: 1766 Medium: Case: gold with diamonds and paste jewels set in silver, pearls; Dial: while enamel; Movement: partly gilded brass and steel, wheel balance and cock of silver set with paste jewels Accession: 1982.60.137 On view in:Gallery 540

Jewel cabinet with watch

Artist: James Cox (British, ca. 1723–1800) Date: probably ca. 1765–70 Medium: Case: agate, mounted in gilded copper and gilded brass and set with painted enamel on copper plaques, and fruitwood; Dial: white enamel Accession: 64.101.829 On view in:Not on view


Artist: Watchmaker: James Cox (British, ca. 1723–1800) Date: ca. 1770–72 Medium: Case: moss agate, mounted in gold and set with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds; silver; Dial: white enamel, with frame pavé-set with paste jewels Accession: 57.128a–o On view in:Not on view

Pair-case automaton watch

Artist: James Cox (British, ca. 1723–1800) Date: ca. 1770 Medium: Outer case: gold, partly enameled and set with gemstones and paste jewels; Inner case: gold; Dial: white enamel, with frame set with paste jewels; Movement: with diamond endstone Accession: 1977.436.4a, b On view in:Not on view