A stunning 18th century French dual-sided bonbonnière, or sweetmeats box, decorated in a style of lacquer known as vernis Martin with silver mounts and tortoiseshell interior. The lid depicts seven putti admiring a basket of baby doves while two doves coo at their feet. The reverse side depicts four putti, one astride a barrel, eating grapes. The sides are equally beautifully decorated with three putto in a landscape with trees and clouds. Each scene is painted against a background of gold leaf. The style and motifs are typical of the Louis XVI period. The silver mounts are unmarked, and may have been gilded at one point, as the inner lips are still gilded. The interior is lacquered in a "trompe l'oeil" pattern.
The term vernis Martin refers to the master French lacquerers from the Martin family; the elder, Guillaume, founded the atelier in 1711. By the end of the 18th century they had achieved the designation of lacquerer to the King, and were known for their "petites gentillesses" (little niceties) such as bonbonnières, snuff boxes and etuis which served as popular gifts of the day. Their items were never signed, however, so attribution is made depending on the quality of the item. It's possible that this box comes from the Martin workshops.
The exterior of the box is in remarkably good condition. The lacquer of the lid is slightly darker than the scene underneath, having been exposed to air and sunlight over the centuries. The interior lip of the base shows visible wear.
Measures 62mm diameter x 33mm high