Frederick Rowland Emett (British, 1906-1990) A kinetic sculpture or automaton created for PI Castings, 1964-5, the cabinet 111cm wide x 42cm deep x 93cm high (44in wide x 16 1/2in deep x 36 1/2in high)

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Lot 297
Frederick Rowland Emett (British, 1906-1990)
A kinetic sculpture or automaton created for PI Castings, 1964-5, the cabinet 111cm wide x 42cm deep x 93cm high (44in wide x 16 1/2in deep x 36 1/2in high)

Sold for £ 6,312 (US$ 8,162) inc. premium
Frederick Rowland Emett (British, 1906-1990)
A kinetic sculpture or automaton created for PI Castings, 1964-5, depicting in the foreground an elegant gentleman studying blueprints, a white-coat-clad engineer, a tree with die-cast parts like birds, and a revolving carousel of further die-castings, in the background a factory with outbuildings, the main building 'cut away' to reveal 9 spinning scenes of the casting process which appear one after another, all in painted metal and wood against a light blue ground with several coloured lights, lit from below by a fluorescent tube, contained within a substantial mahogany cabinet with gilt picture-frame facade and on-off button at the base, the cabinet 111cm wide x 42cm deep x 93cm high (44in wide x 16 1/2in deep x 36 1/2in high)

Footnotes

  • Known as Rowland Emett, Frederick Rowland Emett OBE (1906-1990) was a celebrated cartoonist, a brilliant inventor, a designer, an engineer and a constructor of whimsical kinetic sculptures (automata).

    The son of a businessman and amateur inventor, and the grandson of Queen Victoria's engraver, Emett initially found work in the commercial art field, but soon moved to Punch and quickly became one of their most popular cartoonists. In 1950 the organisers of the Festival of Britain approached him to see if he might create a real-life version of one of his cartoons. The automaton became one of the main attractions at the Festival and made his reputation as a maker of mechanical 'Things'. This led both to numerous commissions such as the present sculpture, and his 'thingamabobs' created for the 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

    This sculpture was commissioned in 1964 by a Cheshire engineering company, PI Castings, and delivered in 1965.

    The lot includes 3 original artworks by Emett:
    (i) Maquette of a brochure entitled "The Secret of PI Casting Revealed by Emett" (ink and white paint on blue paper, 285 x 140mm.);
    (ii) Ink designs for four of the spinning activities within the factory: "Pouring centrifugally", "Assembling wax patterns", "Investing the mould" and "Final inspection", together on one sheet of artists' board (sheet 285 x 390mm.);
    (iii) Ink sketch on artists' board for an invitation "to see Emett's newest un-setpiece, replete with movements, & fraught with messages", with areas of blue wash and overlaying sheet with additional sketch of "SweetiePI", PI Castings' imaginary work cat (sheet 285 x 390mm.).

    Also included in the lot is a small archive of correspondence between PI Castings (carbon copies) and Mary Emett as her husband's business manager (mostly typed letters signed, a handful autograph). In one, dated 18 January 1967, she reports that they have been asked "to work with the Mary Poppins creative team on a new musical with Dick Van Dyke in the lead (a film) of a story for children by Ian Fleming, called Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The hero is a failed inventor and Rowland is to make all his inventions!"

    Please note that whilst this automaton appears to be fully functioning, some electrical and mechanical parts may not operate or may not comply with current statutory requirements. You should not assume that electrical items designed to operate on mains electricity will be suitable for connection to the mains electricity supply and you should obtain a report from a qualified electrician on their status before doing so. Such items which are unsuitable for connection are sold as items of interest for display purposes only. If you yourself do not have expertise regarding a lot, you should consult someone who does to advise you.
Contacts
Frederick Rowland Emett (British, 1906-1990) A kinetic sculpture or automaton created for PI Castings, 1964-5, the cabinet 111cm wide x 42cm deep x 93cm high (44in wide x 16 1/2in deep x 36 1/2in high)
Frederick Rowland Emett (British, 1906-1990) A kinetic sculpture or automaton created for PI Castings, 1964-5, the cabinet 111cm wide x 42cm deep x 93cm high (44in wide x 16 1/2in deep x 36 1/2in high)
Frederick Rowland Emett (British, 1906-1990) A kinetic sculpture or automaton created for PI Castings, 1964-5, the cabinet 111cm wide x 42cm deep x 93cm high (44in wide x 16 1/2in deep x 36 1/2in high)
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