Stèvenard and his "pygmy automatons" - The website of automatons, automata and androids.

The French magician and technician Stèvenard is a contemporary of Robert-Houdin. Stévenard made several miniature automatons which he presented while conjuring tricks in an automatons theater in Paris, around 1850.

Stèvenard mostly made artificial birds, which were often housed in bushes, and several androids housed on the top of pendulums. Among these, we will describe the most famous ones: the illusionist, the magician, the song lesson and the flute player.

The illusionist : In a report drawn up by the delegation of workers in Geneva and presented at the universal exhibition in Paris in 1879, Mister Henri Dey wrote about it:
"On one of the pendulums made by Stèvenard, there is a little illusionist situated behind a table which has, by his side, a pedestal table on which are placed three cups used to make balls (of the size of peas) appear and disappear. After the game of the balls, the illusionist takes another cup bigger than the former ones, knocks it over the table and immediately picks it up, in order to let people see a golden egg (of the size of a nut). Then, the egg is divided into two parts, and a bird (of the size of a bee) comes out of it. The animal falls off and twitters its song. Then, the egg closes on the bird and disappears with it inside the table. As a third act, the magical cup reveals a little
The Stèvenard's illusionist automaton - The website of automatons, automata and androids.
"The illusionist",
a Stèvenard automaton
The illusionist is a very complicated automaton created by Stèvenard - The website of automatons, automata and androids.
The illusionist is a very complicated automaton created by Stèvenard - The website of automatons, automata and androids.
The illusionist is a very complicated automaton created by Stèvenard - The website of automatons, automata and androids.
The illusionist by Stèvenard is certainly the most complicated of all automatons

Punch which entertains the public with its caperings and then disappears at his turn. After all that, the illusionist thanks the audience with gestures.

Olivier ROUX, both a specialist in instruments playing mechanical music and a creator of a certain number of automatons, says: "Considering the richness and variety of its program, this android-automaton by Stèvenard is the smallest one ever seen until now. The chirping bird which is inside the silver egg is twice smaller than those normally found in the skylights.

Its program, which is about 10 minutes long, is the longest one that I have ever seen. This exceptional playing time can be explained by the fact that the cylinder on which the cams are placed not only gets better in rotation, but also in parallel movings. That is why the cam's reading is multiplied by ten.

To my knowledge, the serinette's set of flutes made of solid silver is unique. Its gestures are sweet and with a smoothly harmonious rhythm; and these characteristics make this automaton exceptional.

We received the figure with a technical detailed description found enclosed and written by Stèvenard himself. This is extremely unusual and so it will enable the restorer in charge of making the automaton functioning to follow clearly and step by step the instructions. Finally, we must say that the action which consists in writing notes on the music box's cylinder, which is hidden in the pendulum's pedestal, is also exceptional, just as its acoustic qualities.

The serinette and its set of flutes made of solid silver - The website of automatons, automata and androids.
The serinette and its set of flutes
made of solid silver
The magician : According to an article of A. De Bersaucourt published in 1920, Alfred Chapuis describes the automaton in the following way:
"Around 1850, Stèvenard had made a Magician that he placed into a little temple which was supported by a piece of furniture, made of carved ebony. The index cards, on which were written the questions to ask, were beforehand arranged in a drawer. People chose one of these cards from the drawer and gave it to four swans which then brought it to the necromancer. While a pleasant music was played,
Stèvenard's magician automaton - The website of automatons, automata and androids.
the necromancer looked at the person who had questioned him, consulted his book, and knocked on the temple doors with his stick. The doors immediately opened and revealed a title block made of black enamel. A little imp appeared then and showed the necromancer a vase full of golden ink in which he dipped his stick and then pretended to write the answer on the title block".
"The magician"
a Stèvenard automaton
The singing lesson by Stèvenard also called " Young lady with the blackbird" : A rich oriental woman, about fifteen centimeters high, operates a serinette in front of a blackbird, which she holds on her fist. Striking detail : the bird is tiny but, in spite of its size, it moves its eyes, beak, head, plumage, tail and it can also whistle.
The singing lesson a pygmy automaton created by Stèvenard - The website of automatons, automata and androids.
The singing lesson, a pygmy automaton created by Stèvenard - The website of automatons, automata and androids.
The singing lesson, a pygmy automaton created by Stèvenard - The website of automatons, automata and androids.
The flute player : According to a member of the audience : "The conjurer's neighbour by Stèvenard is a 32 centimeters high musician elegantly dressed in a spanish style. He plays on the flute the most delightful tunes by Rossini and Bellini, his fingers rise up and fall according to the
rules of art."
Stèvenard's flute player automaton - The website of automatons, automata and androids.
The flute player automaton
by Stèvenard

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