Fine pair of antique Victorian papier mache face screens, English in origin, and dating c. 1840-60. Inlaid papier mache shows architectural scenes, the backing of which is real mother of pearl which would have originally been overpainted to give more detail of the buildings, and the shimmer and light of the reflective old pearl would have shown through windows. Still a fabulous set (2) and the old original lathe-turned wooden handles on each are without damage, make a beautiful accompaniment. Face screens were offered to guests who often sat beside the booming Victorian fireplaces that heated most homes in that era. The result over course of an evening of music or recital of some sort might be that the face would blotch from the exposure to direct heat, and/or the wax-based makeup used in the era might disassemble. So face screens were the courtesy given a guest. They same in many forms, the papier mache ones being probably the highest in appeal and value, even today. This pair are just gorgeous works of art, aren't they! You are buying the pair (2) as shown.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type. The mother of pearl retain only some of the old original painted surface, but you can see how it would have been, with pearlescent shimmer and light showing through windows of the buildings. A fabulous oil painting remains on the old papier mache surfaces, however, and I think it most likely these are Jennens & Bettridge, though unsigned. That would make them the finest maker's work. The form, typical oil painted surface and the high quality certainly suggests that maker. Even the old surface is unscathed by the usual crazing of varnishes, making the set even nicer than most in that way. And no chips nor loss to that elegant outer form, which is most unusual as well. A really fine set. You are buying the pair together. Hang as art, frame them beautifully for your walls, or just use them as they were intended, near the fireplace. Measurements noted on the photos, but they are each 10" x 8.75" for the irregular outer form screen and the handles are 8" long, each. Slight overlap as the handle is mounted make them about 16" long to hang, by 10" wide.
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