The origination of Vernis Martin, the beautiful layering of paint and varnish, sometimes patterned or over foil, was a mid-18th century decorative process developed by the Brothers Martin. The style brought depth and lively surfaces of a unique nature to small objects and large, alike. French Queen Marie-Antoinette became very enamored and supportive of the style and helped create a market and a body of beautiful decorated works, including entire rooms at the Palais Versailles which can still be seen mostly intact today. From that movement we have elegant hand painted snuff boxes to furniture pieces, and a continuation of such arts well into the 19th century. The earlier pieces, however, preserve the vibrance of the coloration, and the latter quite often darken in a different way. It is said the secret was the special varnish developed by the Brothers Martin, which has been lost to time. Even knowing all of that, I'm unsure of this elegant bonboniere or large table snuff box. It has the foil-like patterning, and the colors have remained quite vibrant and not to yellow. To be accurate, I'm just going to put it into the entire 100 year period, mid-1700s to late 1800s as the popularity continued. A large box, which appears to be crafted of dark hardwood, nicely mounted and the exterior entirely decorated by hand. Beautiful grape clusters and leaves adorn the top, repeat around the lower half's perimeter, and hand applied gold enamel trimming it out. A beauty! Full measurements are noted on the photos.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, very little loss though certainly some evident age to the decorated exterior. Fitting, hinge and clasp all nicely preserved, as is the composition of the box, which appears to be very dark wood. Small touchup to gold along perimeter of the top of lid. Elegant shading to the small paintings.