An exceptionally fine c.1750-1820 French snuff box in semi-transparent boiled horn, blond in color, perfectly preserved and mounted in sterling silver with a cartouche that is equally perfect. The little portrait miniature of putti is an exceptional work of art in its own right, much more difficult than a painting, it is worked in enamel powders - kiln-fired to melt into a glassine finish many mistake for fine porcelain or perhaps glass. I'm just back from Europe and viewed lesser ones of same type and period on display in both the V&A in London, and the Putti Palace Museum in Florence. We bring museum pieces to you all the time. This is one!
This process, which I've written about many times, is one only accomplished with the skill of years and years of practice. The enamel powders are various shades of muddy mauve, taupe, blues, not the least resembling the color they will become once the kiln melts them into the glassine or porcelain like finished product you see here. So an artist is layering on stroke after stroke, working quite literally blind as far as the colors and spacing of the finished outcome he/she hopes to achieve. It is the memory that guides the hand in this art. And subject to such whims of nature and memory, it's always amazing to me that they come out with anything but a glob. I've tried this art, myself, and believe me, it's very difficult. I mostly get globs. The nature of the process is part of the reason why these old kiln-fired objects have such a following and bring the prices they continue to bring.
Very good to excellent condition throughout, age and type considered. Quite often those have cracks or chips, but this one has neither. Not even hairlines. Exceptional! No bug bites, either. A very superb old snuff or patch box.
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Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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