Life-sized Automaton c. 1885 most probably English. Poured wax figure modeled as the Egyptian queen, with closed eyes, inset flowing hair, articulated bare breasts, her head turned to the left supported by a curved arm, her outstretched right arm encoiled by an asp with moving head and darting tongue, a second asp at her feet, in original (very fragile)painted satin costume with metallic trim. Serpentine bracelet, glass- gem- set anklets and crown, in glazed case with going-barrel motor in plinth base. Total length 6 ft. x 28 ½ in. width x 26 in. height. The Egyptian queen appears to be sleeping with her breasts rising and falling gently while a pair of asps writhe on the velvet cushion. Cleopatra was a popular and romantic figure in 19th century imagery, not least in the world of automata, where her influence is to be found in a similar (but smaller) figure by the Parisian firm Phalibois. This life-size example was probably created for a wax museum or touring exhibition of the sort advertised by the wax modeler and doll-maker Charles Meech in 1875 under the title “Meech’s Royal Exhibition of Mechanical and Wax Figures.”

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