Somehow, I thought I'd eventually figure out the identity of this distinguished man, whose oil painting portrait is painted on the lid of this very old composition snuff box. Not technically 'papier mache', but similar in consistency, a pulverized wood pulp pressed into forms. The surface painting has the look of Vernis Martin, and more depth to it than one might first imagine. Lighted, you not only see the crazing typical of Vernis Martin decorated goods, but also the entire portrait bust. An intense man with beard and a velveted crown or perhaps turban-like head covering, he has the feel of a Russian. Looks a bit like Peter I (Peter the Great), but bearded. I looked back through the Russian Royals, and can't identify it as one. A superb painting in miniature, however. And the box's darker presentation creates additional air of mystery. Too handsome for Grigori Rasputin!
Very good condition for age and material. It has some roughness and the inner thin lip shows chips (see images), though they disappear from view when the top and bottom are fitted together. No warp, no cracks. Surface crazing as with old oil paintings or with Vernis Martin decorated objects. Beautiful old thing! 18th c. to earliest 19th c. and found in France.
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