A superb old mid-1800s large inkwell and desk tray all in one, this beauty is sure to thrill. It's got an ornamental cartouche which is an inset convex plaque of copper with wonderful kiln-fired enamel portrait of a boy and his dog, enjoying the countryside. The scene is right out of the Romantic Era movement of the 1700s which remains popular and is best represented by the paintings by Boucher, Fragonard and others whose vibrant outdoor genre scenes with romantic themes still hang in the Louvre today. The boy is beautifully done. I've written much about how difficult this type of artistry is. Imagine you're painting this scene in miniature and using a variety of muddy-looking pots of shades of grey to mauve to taupe, trying to remember which color they'll be once the kiln melts them into this glassine surface which most resembles porcelain, and also to remember exactly where to daub them on in order to get the face of the boy, his activity and liveliness of clothing and pose, and his dog, picnic basket and all. It is incredibly difficult to learn to do something like this. I know, I've tried it. One would have to be an artist to begin with but then also to apprentice for many years at the side of a Master enamelist in order to get anything even close to the grandeur of this small enamel. That said, allow me to also point out the gentle shading in the sky and the leaves - this in a very small oval. Even the foreshortening of the leg and the motion of his arms is perfectly captured - again, in layers of muddy glaze-like fluids. Thrills me every time I see a really fine one, and this one certainly is among the finest! We have some fabulous enameled opera glasses that would go along with this one so beautifully - sold separately, but look for those. The ornamentation does not end with the enamel, however. The entire desk stand is hand (burin) engraved and the resulting stand is just stunning, truly! You'll love it!
Very good to excellent condition for age and type. The enameled plaque is in remarkably fine condition, as you can see in our greatly enlarged photos of it. There is a little roughness to the outline owing to the manner in which it has been mouned, but the enamel is not chipped or cracked or damaged in any way. The large and heavy solid brass is of high gilt alloy and polishes up to a brilliant shine. You'll want to display your pen collection on this desk tray! And yes, there is the old glass ink pot still intact within (see images). Wow - a real find!