Another from my collections, this old beauty dates to the era of King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, and was decorated in her favorite style, Vernis Martin. A process created by the brothers Martin, it consisted of a layering of paint and varnish, and sometimes a backing of foil, patterning. The finishes were and remain very beautiful. You can see from the bottom of this one, which has less darkening, that it was once a bright colorful and shimmering green. Brass mounted, the snuff box is beautifully lined and without loss to that tortoise shell liner - not even a nip to the inner lip. And up top, a young beauty in a bodice-open 'naughty' for her lover's pleasure. This was rather typical, at a gentleman's request, to have his mistress pose 'indiscreetly' for a small portrait, often mounted on his favorite snuff box. This poor darling seems a reluctant player, her face and stance not the least flirty, though indeed, her cheeks are blushed. Measurements are noted on the photos. Her face, however, is just 1/2" from chin to hairline - imagine! Quite incredible artist, unsigned. The interesting thing, as I've had this for a long time, it had a tiny painting showing which was of an old house. The cover glass has always been pretty filthy inside, so it was very difficult to see the old house well. I finally pulled it out and took the mount off to open and clean that cover glass only to learn that the old home was not the only painting. The mount is slightly out of shape, and now I can see why. His mistress' portrait was out of view beneath the rather innocuous little painting on paper. I've reversed them now. She has the little landscape on paper as her backing.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type. Her elongated lace cap is, I believe, called a 'mull' and hints that she came from southern France, fashion-wise. You can see she might well have been his servant, her button-apron undone to reveal her breasts - yet still modest for the era and genre. The Vernis Martin work is brightest on the bottom of the box, but was the same all over initially. Interesting to see the original brightness. The other fittings are brass. Original convex cover glass is now clean as can be and is in fine order. Again, her face is only 1/2" from chin to hairline. Amazing! Portrait has no flaws notable, and inner box is gorgeous, just one imperfection on inner lid - probably from the Master removing her painting frame to see her. Visible in our photos for your review.
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