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. 1780-90, 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 composite similar to later paper mache but very strong. Topped by an 18k gold-framed miniature painting on vellum that is very interesting. The sweet little painting is pristine, the Revolutionary infant has the eagle on leash, very symbolic of the political times of French Revolution - all aspects of this box are uniquely linked to the 1780s. I cannot make out the incised writing on the inside of the lid, but we've enlarged it very much so if you can make sense of it, we ask you send us an email. Thank you!
Very good to excellent condition for age and type. Given the fragile nature of this worked box, it is surprising to find it nearly 235 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 darkening rick surface that usually crackles, sometimes chips a bit. . The scene, signed by artist "M L" is done on vellum, and is one typical of the flavor of it's era, the Romantic era, represented in museums today by 1700s artists like Boucher, Fragonard. Note a few of the gold foil dots that encircle the outer rim of the box top are missing. The others are 18k gold foil. Very old, very LOVELY item! Measures 2 1/2" diameter and 1 1/8" high.
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