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Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s
Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s
Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s
Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s
Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s
Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s
Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s
Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s
Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s
Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s
Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s
Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s
Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s

Fine 18th C. French Vernis Martin and 15k + Gold Snuff Box, Children, Rooster, c.1770s

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Splendid little snuff or possibly bonboniere, c.1770s with a story to tell. Sweet little  museum piece like this late 1700s snuff might come to bid at one of the major auction houses, but it's not the kind of item you expect to find on the internet, is it. But here you go: Hand painted in the Vernis Martin method, layering of oil painting and varnishes to achieve a dimensional and magical finish originated by the Brothers Martin and used for the chamber of Marie-Antoinette in the Palace of Versailles) a magnificent little jewel of a snuff box with stunning miniature paintings all around. The painting on top and bottom. It tells a story, apart from elegance of being fitted in at least 15k gold (tests above 15k but not at 18k, which would have been French standard and which explains why no tiny French punch mark for 18k). The 3 children painted on the lid, about to butcher a red pheasant or exotic rooster (I can't tell which, though it's painted again on the bottom of the box). It's a story that is difficult to decipher. On its face, symbolically, it seems painted as subversive to the French Royals, Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, in that the Rooster is a symbol of France, and the youth intend it obvious harm. Vegetables are painted around the sides of the box, and the blacksmith's anvil and fiery forge seem like a plan to cook it into a stew. Yet that theme would conflict with the usual market source for this type of elegant little box in its time. Was it a harbinger of future plans to take down the Royals, French Revolution and all in near future and likely both predicted and hoped for by many?  An anvil would have been a symbol of bravery, strength and virtue in this time in France. A connotation could be taken that this rare little one foretells the coming Terror. If so, whomever commissioned it would have been both subversive in it's making and in its use. Pulling it from a vest pocket might have signaled sympathy to the Revolution which was building. That said, it appears to have been treasured and not used. It stands in fine form, no loss to the gold bands, no chips nor loss to the old tortoise shell lined interior, and even the layered oil paint and varnish paintings remain quite excellent for age. It's the kind of thing I'd rather expect to see on display in the Carnivalet, Paris, The Museum of the History of Paris. You know, in the Revolution room. Measurements are noted on the photos. It's petit as were they all in that era, just 2 3/8" in diameter and a hair under 1" tall. 

Very good to excellent condition for age and type, gold tested but has no French mark on it, furthering my speculation of it having been subversively crafted outside of the usual government controls for gold (and subject matter). Such a beautiful little museum piece!  In my overly close inspections of this one, the one thing which puzzles me a bit is the overall crackle-like surface. Yes, it's typical for some shrinkage to old oil and varnish paintings, and they're subject to chips partly for the same reason. I have looked it over closely and I think it has a couple of early chips, and might well have had a professional restoration at some point, and a protective coat of varnish as preservation. Just a mention. It is charming!

IMPORTANT NOTE regarding antique tortoise shell or ivory: We are great supporters of protection for endangered species in our modern world. We never buy or sell anything 100 years or newer; we donate to anti-poaching organizations; we don't hunt; we conserve in ways that impact global warming (we're totally solar at home), knowing those measures also protect the animals in the wild today. We also recognize the vast cultural history we preserve with our care and reverence for these antique objects, and agree with CITES that objects over 100 years of age have nothing whatsoever to do with species depletion in our current world. 

Our offering exceeds the age limitation of "more than 100 years of age", and is well within the exemption for CITES regulation. If imported, met the CITES regulation. This item will be handled and shipped from our Utah business, and is not available for shipment internationally, nor within the USA to California, NY, Nevada, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington if it contains ivory, sorry. Please see our small print for more details.