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Antique French Snuff Box, 1700s Vernis Martin and 18k Gold with Miniature Painting Portrait of a Dog
Yes, it's a painting of a little pooch, a darling one at that, and certainly well loved by an owner who would pay to have an artist paint him for this snuff box. These Vernis Martin snuff boxes date from 1760 to around 1820 or so, the style most popular during the reign of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette and the layered varnish style she favored, developed by the brothers 'Martin', hence the name 'Vernis Martin'. The rather unique interior of this box is worked in the old straw work we often associate with prisoners of war, 1700s, which makes me wonder at calling it a snuff box, yet it's size and form suggest it. Perhaps it was a bonbon box to begin with, a few luxurious confections inside for the recipient of this charming bauble. The little painting is protected under the original cover glass, but you can see that a little moisture has condensed within and done a little damage to the painting of the King Charles Spaniel. Still, he's a lovely little thing, and a rare find to be treasured for another 200 years and more.
Very good to excellent condition for age and type, the straw work interior is in excellent form, the Vernis Martin layered paint and varnish exterior is good and has a few rim chips that keep it from being excellent but which also represent the age. The varnish has a few crazing-like lines, typical of the manner of surface decoration, and they can be seen in our images, too. The flaw most damaging is that some moisture has condensed under the cover glass at some point, disturbing the goauche or watercolor portrait of this pup, as you can see. I think the painting is signed, there to the left of the dog's chest, though it can't be read. A pulled drapery to the right misses a little of its paint, as well. Still, you can easily make out the dog. It's rare to find paintings in miniature of favored pets, but they do come to us now and then. This one is wonderful! Oh, and the ring framing him in does test at 18k gold.
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