This genre of coffre/box was favored by the fashionable nobility in France during the late 19th century. This box dates from 1860-1870 and comes from Paris.
The tri-color metal design and the trapezoid shape, combined with the 2-D figural pictorial scenes, give a unique appearance. The scenes tell the story of a shepherd who has lost his sheep, which have been found by a clever old fox. The front panel depicts a Breton lady with her head bowed in prayer. A jug has tumbled over on the ground in front of her, her farmhouse is far in the background. The back panel shows a shepherd on horseback, followed by a young man, off to search for the errant sheep. The scene of the lid portrays the wily fox, dressed as a shepherd with clueless sheep looking up at him. These figural scenes are very detailed, the designs are well executed and the story is amusing. The two side panels of the box have cast molded shell and filigree shapes. The bottom of the box has a wide skirt with a dentelle design There is a cartouche (for engraved initials) at the center front. There is a copper lock plate (no key). The box stands on four fancy metal feet.
The interior is lined with the original crimson silk, which has been tufted with tiny silk buttons. The box measures: 4 3/4" tall, 7' wide at front, 3 1/2" deep along the sides. The interior measures: 3 1/4" deep. The box exterior is in very good and solid condition. There is a very slight bend to the top left edge band of the lid (just to the left of the cartouche), but this does not effect the soundness of the lid. The interior is in fabulous condition with little wear.
It is one of the most unusual boxes that we have found. The tri-color metal combined with the amusing figural story make this French coffre quite a conversation piece!
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Fine French Small Antiques: Eighteenth Century Smalls, Gilded Bronze, Objets of Vertu, Napoleon III