With the divorce rates in the world at shocking high rates, surely you have a friend (or yourself, sadly) who can identify with this box as a souvenir of a tough or happy transition back to single hood. The kiln-fired portrait miniature mounted on top of this late 19th century box is St. Helen, known to be the Catholic Patron Saint for all divorcees. Seems unlikely, doesn't it, since divorce was so frowned upon, and yet many men had rights to simply dispose of their spouse through divorce. St. Helen was the protective female saint to whom those poor dispatched women turned for their fate and hopes. Happily, in our time, most fare much better than did the displaced homemaker of the 19th century and before. And many, knowing they can make it on their own, are happy to celebrate the end of a bad situation. This is perfect for those friends, is it not? Or for anyone, single or married, who just loves these wonderful old boxes.
Very good to excellent condition throughout. There is no damage to report on this fine old one. The thick beveled glass top makes it a favorite because it can be used as a vitrine to show off your jewelry or collected antique brooches, etc., within. The interior remains beautifully preserved, in original tuck-tufted silk, cream in color. The mounted plaque of copper is worked in kiln-fired enamel and represents a fine work of art and craft in its own right. We don't find them any nicer than this rather large example. We have not polished it. It can rise to a brilliant high gold with a bit of brass polish and a soft cotton rag should you so choose. Leaving that decision to our buyer.
About kiln-fired enamel process: 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.
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Antique French Jewelry Casket, Box, Glass Top, Kiln-fired Portrait of St. Helen, Divorce Saint
$447 $595 SALE