Just recently acquired a confectioner's box with the coveted engraved name of arguably the finest confectioner working in Paris, 1800s, Boissier. I mention this because it is a matching box with the same unusual kiln-fired enamel work. You'll see it pictured with this wonderful set of opera glasses or binoculars in that final photo of our spreads, and I am just certain they were not only made by the same artisan, but perhaps also owned by the same 19th century opera-goer. The shops along the Palais Royal promenade and those along the long street in Paris that takes a deep Y at the Opera Garnier (Avenue d'el Opera) offered the finest objects, foods, confections and of course trinkets for the elite. The chocolatier, Boissier, is subject even today of a museum in Paris and the firm continues in that grand 19th century tradition of excellence. So it is with that position of origin we offer up this lovely historied pair of opera glasses with pride and a nod to that grand Belle Epoch.
NOTE: you are buying only the opera glasses herein. The box I'm mentioning is sold separately. Splendid antique kiln-fired enamel opera glasses, very likely by enamelists of Sevres, France, where we primarily think of porcelain. But the same decorators worked in the much more difficult to master technique you see here: powdered enamels layered on convex copper or sometimes silver plaques (or in this case the round formed tubes that form the barrels of opera glasses) then fired in the kiln to very high temperatures to turn the powdered enamel to this glassine-line finish. To create a discernible image is difficult. To create this type of pictorial 2-plaque pair would only be the work of a great Master with a lifetime of experience. You see, the enamels in fluid suspended state all are a slightly varied shade of muddy blues, mauves, not at all the color they end up being. It's a work of spectacular skill and memory, also, knowing what you've laid down where, and how they'll all melt to anything but a mush. I know, I've tried this before. The most difficult art! To help you appreciate this pair of opera glasses, allow me also to say the finished enamels are rather fragile. Many think these are porcelains, hand painted. They're not. But if you drop the items, the cracks and chips will be immediate. So to show you this one so finely crafted in the Sevres manner and without any damage to it at all - well, you can imagine the thrill it is to find these rare ones.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, the kiln-fired enamel work is just stunning on this set. They are, most likely, the work of enamelists working in the Sevres community, famous primarily for the primary decoration of porcelains. There is no damage to either of the kiln-fired enamel barrels, the work accomplished on the copper plaque barrels, so elegantly enhanced with foil backings to shimmer the costumes of the man and woman, and outdoor scenes with a pink-pale peach coloration of sunset. There is some obvious use and a bit of loss to the black enamel on other parts of the set, however, visible in our images. Measurements noted on the photos. Lenses all in place, clear and ready to use. Mother of pearl adjustment wheel turns smoothly and works well. These would date c.1850-70, perhaps 10 years later.
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