The 19th century excellence of top ebenistes (cabinet makers) of France was on display in the very popular and fairly vase array of decorative boxes. Likewise, small boxes for snuff, bonbons, patches, and more were popular objects collected in 1600-1800s, and are treasures today. I think the first antique I ever bought was a marquetry box when I was a Grad student in London, long ago. And we used to deal heavily in these stunning fine old 19th century boxes, too, before branching into so many other avenues of the fine arts and antiques we now present. It is with such pleasure I still approach old boxes when on buying trips; there is always the promise of some glorious fitted interior, loads of vanity items or layers of travel necessities or gaming chips. One never knows. And it is with equal pleasure we bring a special bunch of antique French boxes to our customers, all listing today and all sold separately. The final image will help you gauge scale. And if you don't see what you want in this bunch, use search box to find all the most superb antique boxes we already have listed. From huge cashmere shawls or marriage chests, to the small watch box or snuff boxes. Fabulous to collect. I still do! This is a 1700s snuff box, c. 1760-80, done in the then popular fashion of Vernis Martin (layered varnish and painted surface which resulted in a rich surface with depth and rich color). The style was a favorite of Marie-Antoinette, and is named for the Martin Brothers who worked in this decorative style in her behalf. A visit to Versailles shows you how the style took over Marie-Antoinette's living quarters. And it was, therefore, popular among the elite and Royalists around Europe. This beauty is done on a base of wood, and lined inside with woven straw, something we see shortly later on in many items made by prisoners of the Revolutionary war and Napoleonic wars and a lost art. Topped by a silver-framed cartouche that is very interesting. The cover glass prevents us from cleaning, but it's 18k yellow gold foil - all aspects of this box are uniquely linked to the 1770s.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type. Given the fragile nature of this worked box, it is surprising to find it nearly 250 years later without any breaks, serious rim chips, losses. The nature of Vernis Martin darkens the colors over time as the varnish layers yellow. So you get this type of finish that crazes, darkens. The colors would have been bright green with red tri-petal flowers striped in black lines. Typical of the era, that ti-petal flower usually linked to the Trilogy, and then also to the fleur de lis that is the symbol of France. The cut gold foil inside the silver cartouche is so old it is showing tarnish, but it's a lovely remainder of that craft, as well. Beneath it, are silk embroidery with tiny even stitches. The scene, one typical of the flavor of it's era, the Romantic era, represented in museums today by 1700s artists like Boucher, Fragonard. Very old, very LOVELY item! Measures 2 1/2" diameter and 1 1/8" high.
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