Magnificent rare museum piece, this! I've written much about the layered varnish and paint decorative manner favored by Marie-Antoinette, and developed by the Brothers Martin, afterward known simply as "Vernis Martin", and this is a masterpiece of that era and style. Most interesting, apart from the Louis XV to XVI paintings is the fact that the box is entirely made of agate, has either a 16k gold or very deeply coated 16k gold on silver mount (acid test at 16k), and is made in the manner of the Prussian/German agate boxes of that era. This one a patch box or patch and snuff, 2 compartments up top with separately hinged lids which have a continuous painting in miniature of the Palace at Versailles. Carriage of the King, horse-mounted guards leading its arrival. The side panels are each painted, and the bottom shows another superb scene of the same Royal carriage arriving at a country Palace - possibly d'Amboise though I'm not certain. I've been there, and it looks like the small chapel in distance within which lies remains of Leonardo d'Vinci. The art work is incredible - tiny portraits, impossibly fine detail. And surely has been a Royal possession, such is the quality and condition. I've never seen Vernis Martin accomplished on stone - agate in this case, reminding one of the Idar-Oberstein specimen boxes and goods.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type. Remarkable, the state of preservation. Recently I attended an auction online disbursing a Versailles estate which had many Royal and important 17th to 18th century objects, books, armory, "property of a Nobleman". From such an estate comes this museum piece. There are no chips, no cracks nor hairline in the agate panels, the outer 2 of which are arched. The frame, which I still feel is probably silver with a very heavy coating of 16k gold rather than solid 16k, has a very old small solder on one corner, but is otherwise excellent. The paintings, 9 panels in all, are just magnificent, little if any loss at all, even on the bottom one. As if it's been on a brace mount for museum display, and never rested on its bottom. Quite remarkable in all ways.