Though largely lost on passing schoolchildren and tourists at the Morris Museum, these monkeys were once a scathing critique on French aristocracy. There is a monkey on a early sort of bicycle called a velocipede, a monkey harpist, a monkey violinist, two small monkey musicians, and an incredible monkey dandy under a large glass dome. All are dressed in fine silks with hair done up in the style of French Royalty. These automata were a post-French-revolution joke on the former rulers and current dandies of France. So popular was the theme of foolish aristocratic monkeys that it was common in French homes, and whole rooms were decorated around the theme.
Read more about the mechanical monkey fad at Curious Expeditions. Link