Stunning c1700s hand painted French snuffbox, done in the manner, Vernis Martin, which comprised of a layering of color and varnish to build up a more rich decorative surface. Elegant table snuff survives these 250 or so years from the reign of ill-fated French King Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, whose particular favorite was the Vernis Martin decorative style. You see it in the Palace of Versailles in furniture and wall decor and boxes like this and other decorated small objects like billet dour would also have been on her bedside and other tabletops or in cabinets in her quarters during her life there. The theme is, of course, Mythology, and we see Europa along with her always present bull, and Zeus. Usually these gods are shown in a tempestuous rape scene and theme. That she is depicted here with a pleasant look and Zeus seems not so powerful anymore, one has to understand the theme is the overcoming of lust's revenge of feminine seduction. I wish I knew exactly the story of this particular snuff box whose painting says to me it is a bit of an early women's liberation theme, more something I might anticipate from Josephine's commission as she was socially and sexually the better and almost master of poor Napoleon. Interesting! The painting is devine and in the manner of the Romantic movement headed in France in the 1700s by Boucher, Fragonard, Watteau, and others. And the time of this painting runs during the lifetime of Boucher, as well. One wonders! No signature on the box, but it's all-over painted surface shows an eagle on the backside, and as well on the outer rim of the top panel. Europa certainly looks like a Boucher painting!
Very good to excellent for age and type, the box is c.1750-80, and is entirely hand decorated in the manner Vernis Martin. The table sized snuff (3" in diameter and over 1" high) is also noted on our photos. There are very small disruptions to the rim of the snuff, which you can view and evaluate in our photos. There are a few very tiny pin-prick painting flaws in the sky area above Europa and Zeus. No serious chips and no breaks to lining or box. A superb example of a rare art form, 1700s.
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