Dating from the latter era of Louis XV (1760-1770, it is a precious and authentic decorative accessory. It originates from a small collection found just outside of Paris. This particular genre of box is rarely seen in today's antique markets.
Vernis Martin was a lustrous lacquer substitute widely used in the 18th century to decorate furniture and such personal articles. The name vernis Martin (“Martin varnish”) was developed to imitate East Asian lacquer ware being imported into France during the Louis XV period. Vernis Martin was made in several colours, green and a golden red being the most characteristic.
In an age where men wore wigs and ladies had many accessories adorning their hair, many accessories were needed to hold all the attachment pieces. This particular size of box was used to hold pins which secured the large wigs. The form is specific to the period; rectangular with a beautifully upward turning curved lid. The top center of the box was covered with fabric (this fabric dates from around 1820) which was changed often as it was prone to quick wear because of the sharpness of the pins.
The box is painted in the deep green color, which has aged and crackled to a rich patina. The design around the sides is typically Oriental, with pagodas, flowers and ferns, The motifs are painted in both gilt and red (which has become a magical copper color with the many coats of varnish). The box still retains it's original 18th century hardware. A splendid bronze lock plate is placed at the front center (no key). There is a matching knob which is mounted on a flower shaped base. The hinges are gorgeous; chased bronze which depicts very delicate flowers and leaves.
The interior is painted a marvelous salmon shade (which was used extensively during this period). The bottom has been painted black. It measures: 6 1/2" x 4" x 3 1/2" tall. The inset cushion measures 1 3/4" x 4 1/2". It is in very good antique condition: light wear and chipping to varnish and paint which is typical, wear to the black paint on the bottom. The original lock mechanics remain but there is no key.
Vernis Martin lacquer accessories and furniture are such special pieces. The richness of the exteriors and the delicateness of the designs give these examples such presence. This box comes from a very interesting period in French history, and when writing it's description, we wish it could have a conversation! It is a precious accessory from an important era.
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18th and 19th Century French Antiques
Fine French Small Antiques; Gilded Bronze, Objets of Vertu, Antique Books, Napoleon III, Porte Montre, Cast Bronze