This beautifully hand-carved Encrier or Ink Well is an exact miniature replica of the The Lion Monument in Lucerne. It dates from the very late 19th century, and was probably produced for the "Grand Tour" tourist trade (a time when the nobles of Europe visited the great cities) of this era.
The original Lion Monument was designed as a memorial for the mercenary soldiers from central Switzerland who lost their lives while serving the French king Louis XVI during the French Revolution. The Monument was inaugurated in August 1821. In 1882 it was moved to the city of Lucerne where it soon became one of the most popular tourist attractions.
When the revolutionary masses attacked the royal Tuileries castle in Paris on August 10, 1792 the Swiss mercenary troops tried to defend the royal family and make sure the royals could escape.The latin inscription HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI (at the bottom of the encrier) means "To the loyalty and bravery of the Swiss".
The carved detail is incredible and is a carefully executed likeness to the large Monument in Lucerne. It is carved in Poplar wood, which has been painted in taupe grey, with a white painted overlay. The interior opens to reveal two glass inkwells (one smaller, one a bit larger). The glass is thick and the top rim is left to a flat cut). They appear to be hand-blown. The inside of the lid has a concave center, carved with tiny stars. There is a brass hinge (three screws are a modern replacement). There are flowers and vines around the entire bottom panel. The light wood color shows is visible from wear, showing through the paint, which gives the piece an interesting contrasting appearance.
It is in excellent condition, there is a small split to the bottom panel (see photo), but this is normal in wood of this age. The dimensions of the Encrier are: 8" long, 5 1/4" high (to top of lion's head) and 3 5/8" deep. The glass wells (which do not come out of the Encrier body, measure 1 5/8" wide at the top of the shoulder).
This is a very unusual piece, and is very handsome when placed on an antique desk. The history of the carved subject is interesting, making it an unusual conversation piece.
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Fine 18th and 19th century French smalls: Layaways Welcome