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Antique French Vernis Martin Nécessaire, Sterling Silver and Miniature Painting, c.1750s
Antique French Vernis Martin Nécessaire, Sterling Silver and Miniature Painting, c.1750s
Antique French Vernis Martin Nécessaire, Sterling Silver and Miniature Painting, c.1750s
Antique French Vernis Martin Nécessaire, Sterling Silver and Miniature Painting, c.1750s
Antique French Vernis Martin Nécessaire, Sterling Silver and Miniature Painting, c.1750s
Antique French Vernis Martin Nécessaire, Sterling Silver and Miniature Painting, c.1750s
Antique French Vernis Martin Nécessaire, Sterling Silver and Miniature Painting, c.1750s
Antique French Vernis Martin Nécessaire, Sterling Silver and Miniature Painting, c.1750s
Antique French Vernis Martin Nécessaire, Sterling Silver and Miniature Painting, c.1750s
Antique French Vernis Martin Nécessaire, Sterling Silver and Miniature Painting, c.1750s

Antique French Vernis Martin Nécessaire, Sterling Silver and Miniature Painting, c.1750s

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A rare fine treasure, this! I can't be positive, but I believe that is the c.1700 city of Paris depicted in distance, as that tiny traveler walks toward it. This stunning vest necessaire (or carnet du bas) is framed in fine French sterling, a very early mark punched on the inner rim (see images), though I can't locate it in my reference materials. We know it dates to the time of or just prior to ill-fated King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, give or take 10 years. When this one arrived from Paris, very dingy and dirty, I did peel the locket frames out of their recess and cleaned the cover glass, only to find hand painted playing cards as backing, the ace of spades featured. That would have meant something to the owner or artist, whose signature is not to be found. Superb tiny painting is barely 1 1/4" wide, yet look at the incredible detail of it when greatly enlarged. A gatehouse, Shepard with flock of sheep, the city in distance. You can be sure this was at Court of Versailles at one time or another. The backside has a hand painted monogram, also housed in locket recess with the original slightly convex cover glass in place and clean. So gracefully crafted, those ovals fit in perfection, snug and tight. 

Very good to excellent condition, no breaks, no losses to the tiny painting, and only the smallest disruption to the salmon-red Vernis Martin layering of varnish and oil paint that decorates the wooden body of the case. Within, the tiny lead pencil still can be found perfectly fitted into his opening, but the thin wafer is no longer with it. A notepad, of sorts, it is likely the souvenir of a Grand Royal Ball, and would have been intended to record the spoken for dances of the evening, then saved as souvenir of the event. Museum piece, this. Measurements are noted on the photos.