This little box is a fine example, signed by Alphonse TAHAN (1830-1880), who was a master cabinetmaker to Emperor Napoleon III. The workshop of Tahan was famous for its ability to produce exquisite boxes in the styles of the past.
The Tahan workshop captured the attention of the Emperor Napoleon III and his wife, the Empress Eugenie. Empress Eugenie had very extravagant and impeccable taste. She was a trendsetter within the society and fashion of her time. She was an exuberant follower of Tahan and was thrilled by the cabinet maker's exquisite work. Tahan exhibited their work at the London Great Exhibition in 1851 and at the Paris Exhibition Universelle in 1855.
This lovely box is in Champlevé (an enamel technique in which troughs or cells are carved into the surface of a metal object, and filled with vitreous enamel). The top of the box, and the four sides of the box are ornamented with an intricate floral design. This design features brilliantly colored enamel pieces in the forms of purple, red, pink and blue flowers, surrounded by light and dark green leaves. The flowers have been placed on a butter yellow background which is surrounded by a French blue frame filled by tiny gilt flowers.
The frame of the box is of bronze and it is ornamented by very lovely and curvy bronze ormolu feet. The interior of the box is of deep crimson velvet and the box is signed along the front inside edge: "TAHAN. Boul. des Italiens. 11". The bottom of the box is covered with purple silk (frayed to reveal the wooden support....the silk is purely ornamental). It measures 4 1/4" across, 2 3/4" high, 2 3/4" deep.
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