Swan and swallow! A fabulous hand painted c. 1700s treasure! A rare and special treat, indeed! Here we have a fine late 1700s to earliest 1800s French billet doux of such beauty and elegance, it must certainly have carried the love notes of someone from among the Courtiers of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI's era or shortly thereafter. A very romantic item, the billet doux was the etui into which a rolled scroll of a love letter might be passed along or hand delivered by one's servant. A courrier's 'envelope' of sorts, these became so associated with the intimate love notes carried within, that today the term is itself a romantic one. This elegant old etui is superb, both in form and in condition. These came in a myriad of forms, many survive and we see them in museums around the world. This one could well be on display in the Musee des Arts Decoratif in the Louvre in Paris, where many similar etui fascinate visitors every day. The case, typical of the genre, is roughly the size of a nickel or quarter and is about 5 + inches in length, sometimes is confused as being a needles case, though of course it is not. This one is actually enameled in the Vernis Martin method of layering pigments and varnish a' la the brothers Martin, a method of surface decoration favored by Marie-Antoinette which proliferated during her time, and can today be seen in many applications in her quarters at the Palace of Versailles.
Very good to excellent condition. One notable flaw: one silver rim banding is missing. Very slight losses to the vernis martin hand painting/varnish layers, but not much considering age and type. Interior has a very fine shell collar/inset that has sustained no damage at all over time. The body of the etui is wood, the theme is swan and swallow in marshlands settings. Simply fabulous! RARE!
Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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