Elegant & rare antique French Napoleon III era TAHAN marked 10 5/8” jewelry or desk box with serpentine shaped sides, brass edging & strip inlays and ornate brass, faux mother of pearl & shell boulle inlaid cartouche & escutcheon! Yes, marked by the world renowned TAHAN, Alphonse Tahan (1830-1880). Born in Belgium in 1830 and by the age of 19, he had opened a shop at 30 Rue de la Paix in the heart of Paris. Tahan grew to prominence as a craftsman known for creating beautiful and varied pieces, from the elaborate to the simple. His work, typical of the Second Empire, combined a classical formality reminiscent of the late 1700s with the lavish use of costly materials. He used many techniques including using pieces of cast bronze to simulate bamboo. Tahan eventually caught the eye of Napoleon’s wife, Empress Eugenie, and he became the official “ebeniste” (cabinetmaker) to the Emperor and his wife. The Empress was considered a trend-setter; a great beauty herself, she had an eye for things that were aesthetically pleasing. Her regard for Tahan’s workshop led to great demand for his furniture and smaller items, such as this sewing box. His pieces became sought after by the upper echelon of Paris society. He moved his shop to Boulevard des Italiens in 1978, but died a short two years later. His works were in demand right across Europe, where they were exhibited at The London Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851, and the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1855 and received medals on both occasions. Tahan’s son carried on his father’s legacy.
When one looks for the best of the best, that name ranks up there with, if not above, only a handful of Parisian ebenistes including Vervelle and Sormani to name a few. Nice larger size, this one measures 10 5/8" wide, 7.5" deep and stands 5.5" tall! The interior has the original red moire silk lining with braided piping, the exterior in that ever so elegant Napoleon III jet black ebony or ebonized walnut veneers. The inner lock mechanism is marked “TAHAN, FR (Fornisseur) du Roi (Maker to the King)”. A truly wonderful desk or dressing table top decorative accent, one you'll love to show off at every occasion!
Very good condition. There is a veneer fill on the lid, front right corner and subtle lifting to some of the ends of the brass strip inlays. Crazing or cracking to the faux mother of pearl & shell boulle inlay but no losses or lifting there. Some faint surface marks but, as you can see, it's in wonderful condition given its 100+ years. This one even has a working lock & key. Truly fabulous!
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Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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