Looking closely, I think this painting is on heavy card or perhaps mother of pearl. I am not going to take the box apart to completely assure myself of that, but it has a more opaque surface than usual and absolutely nothing of a grain to be seen in the lighter places. The box is unique as it is the size of a snuff box but is not fitted on the interior as one to hold snuff, but rather to hold something else that was precious; perhaps a gold watch with that silk pouched section to tuck the gold watch chain into? I haven't seen one fitted as this is. I can tell you that this woman's portrait is magnificent, as fine as an Jean-Baptiste Isabey miniature, but I am unable to find a signature. Perhaps you experts in miniaturists will immediately see the artist's style and identify. I was tempted to take it apart to see if a signature can be found on rim or on back side, but I hesitate worrying I might cause some damage. So perhaps an even more important portrait than we think resides herein. She is gorgeous. He eyes so expressive. She is a lady of the c.1770s, and this is an intimate portrait in her dressing gown and sleeping cap. That she has the modest white covering for her bodice tells us it might be a beloved wife's portrait rather than a mistress. Just look at the delicate detail in a painting so small - the lace, the bow, her eyes! The box is of shagreen, an exotic leather popular in 1700s for such small boxes and also necessaire. It is the belly skin of the stingray and has that distinctive tiny round scale. This is an exceptionally fine example of an object made with it. The French called it galuchat. The English call it shagreen.
Very good to excellent condition throughout. The old shagreen snuff-sized box is as close to immaculate as can be for the age (more than 250 years), and the painting is perfectly preserved beneath the original cover glass. The interior of the box is fitted in fine silk and silk velvet, and is in very fine condition for age, as well. There is a pouch worked into the lining, as you can see. I think it must have been a box made to protect and present a gift like a fine gold watch and chain. It is sized as a snuff box, and it is only when you open it that you realize it is not. I have it in my own snuff box collection on view, and it is among the very finest. Museum quality in every aspect. Stunning portrait in miniature. The box is of turned wood veneered with the finest shagreen. The box is 3.5" in diameter and is 1.25" tall when closed. The metal frame surrounding her portrait is not carat gold, but might be gold plate. In any case, it could also be below my lowest test acid which is 12k.
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Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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