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Antique 1700s French HP Portrait Miniature Pair, Couple in Original Shagreen Case, Etui
Circa 1750-70, Louis XVI era paintings, Man and Wife Cased in original shagreen etui, (stingray belly leather)
One might initially this this to represent a gypsy and a priest, but in fact these are typical upper middle class costumes for mid-1700s and the couple is likely a well-to-do merchant (not his colors, his gold earring, the book he holds to indicate he is able to read) and his wife. She has a small mesh purse in her hand, indicating wealth (perhaps crassly so) and extra large gold hoop earrings. They would not be individuals accepted into the Royals' circle, but might well have been merchant or trades people who achieved a measure of success. She wears a gold chain to which her purse is attached. The rather "folk art" style we only rarely see. Remember, photography wasn't introduced until the Daguerreotype in 1838 and so these hand painted portraits exist as the only image of people whose lives must have been vibrant (if harder) and history-rich. If only we could extract the stories from the object - maybe some day we'll find that inanimate objects hold a researchable record as we ultimately discovered fingerprints and then DNA as identifiers that truly tell a story. Alas, I dare not take the images out of their case to see if something more telling exists behind. They're wedged in tightly behind the cover glass, each of which is in fine undamaged state, and I won't risk damage to search further - will leave that decision to our buyer. I am unsure if they are painted on card - rather looks like it to me, but they might be of more typical material. Again, not taking them out to evaluate, but the paint is thicker in application than usual and no grain is visible. A VERY charming and unusual couple, housed in the old original traveler's case - perhaps he's a sea captain, and took these along or left them behind for his wife while he voyaged the open sea. that also might explain the jewelry.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, no cracks to the cover glass, though it's rough cut and one corner (lower left) of the man's cover glass has a corner clipped. The old silk fabric that borders them has gone rather threadbare in nearly 300 years, but the outer case leather is complete and very fine (valuable in its own right) and the paintings are excellent, without damage. The hinge is fine and the clasp also works and is fully intact. In combination, an exceptional museum quality find. Vest-pocket size, like the very early miniatures. Measurements are noted on photos, it is 2 5/8" x 2 1/8" and 3/4" deep when closed.
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San Marcos, CA
Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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