ANTIQUE VICTORIAN French Paper Lace & Engraved Religious Card by Bouasse - The Burial of Christ!
Welcome to ROBINS NEST MIDWEST! May I offer….
AGE: C.1860 or so
ITEM: The French take the Catholic religious very seriously and out of France come the most beautiful relics and religious items ever manufactured. One item the French took great pride in creating were religious cards. Because Victorian society was so class orientated, the cards were manufactured according to the wealth of an individual. The poor could purchase a plain paper card for a few centimes; the middle class could afford a paper lace card with an engraved image while the upper class could afford cards of great beauty and workmanship - cost being no object. The back of the card is written in French and probably tells the story of the scene.
What I offer here is a religious card that probably served for the middle class. Made of paper lace and featuring a hand tinted, engraved image of the dead Christ being laid in his burial container, one can clearly discern that the Blessed Mother Mary is in the picture along with one of his disciples.
CONDITION: Very nice with no breaks in the paper lace or parts missing. The edging of the lace has turned slightly brown with age. The hand tinting has been nicely done and I can spot no error.
HALLMARKS: Bouasse Jeune r, Mabillon, 9, Paris
HISTORY of BOUASSE: The printing house Maison Bouasse-Lebel was founded by Eulalie Lebel in 1845. Her family had a long history of being in the printing business: her father was a printer and engraver, and her maternal grandfather was a printer and librarian. When Eulalie was a young teenager, her family moved into the Latin Quarter of Paris, in the printing district. Here, she met her husband François-Marie Bouasse, who was also from a printing family. The marriage ended poorly, however, and Eulalie was forced to find a way to support herself and her two sons. She decide to do this by founding her own printing company. Thus, the Maison Bouasse-Lebel was born.
The Maison Bouasse-Lebel encountered financial difficulties in its first years. Although Eulalie and her husband were separated, she was required to pay off his massive debts upon his early death. Gradually, the family got back on their feet and began to turn a profit. Her cards gained popularity, both domestically and internationally. The industry was helped by a resurgence of piety in France during the mid-nineteenth century, which helped sales of holy cards.
In 1852, Eulalie’s son Henri bought the printing house from her. She retained a management advisory position for five years after the sale, but Henri was free to make changes. One of the first things he introduced was the production of items other than religious images. Henri expanded printing to include pictures and images for churches, as well as encyclopedias, maps, and books. He even enlisted the help of the local prison to use their inmates to help create the lace used in their prayer cards. The printing house won many medals for their products at fairs and exhibitions, including at the Universal Exhibition held in Paris in 1855. In 1858, the house signed a contract to produce “objects of piety” for a charity that aimed to bring Christianity to children, initially only in China but then in an expanded list of nations.
SIZE: 2-3/4" x 4-3/8".
FINAL COMMENTS: In France, these religious cards are collected with great passion with the finest being carefully framed and handed down within the family. Some of these cards can command thousands of dollars depending on the materials used and the religious content. Anyone want to start a collection?
NOTE: When it comes to any of my paper items, I can put a lot of pieces in an envelope so that the postage is cost effective to buyer.
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