This large and handsome desk box dates from the late 19th century, 1870-1880. This example is a fine representative of the unique and artistically inspired objects that were offered for sale in fine Parisian boutiques during this era.
The body of the box is made of wood, with a black lacquer finish that was popular during this time period. An extensive amount of ornamentation has been added to what would have been a plain, curved top box. Fine bronze ormolu adorns the front bottom panel with accents of rectangular mother-of-pearl. The beautifully curved top has 6 mother-of-pearl flowers, two crossed-hatched mother-of-pearl diamond-shaped pieces, eight mother-of-pearl rectangular pieces and four mother-of-pearl cabochon pieces (one of the cabochons, bottom right has had some heat damage and is not as iridescent as the others). There is a lock and key (which works).
The curved lid has four large bronze ornamental leaves are at each corner, with four rectangular bronze pieces on either side of the medallion. The bronze framed medallion holds a blue and white porcelain tile, which pictures the Greek god, Zeus, in profile.
The box is lined with luxurious royal blue moiré silk. The hinges of the box are in good and working order, with no pulling away from the box. The bottom of the box is covered with (the original) green felt.
It is in good and sound condition. There is no damage except for a slight hairline age crack to the lacquer in the top bottom-right corner of the lid (not effecting the structure or soundness of the corner). The bronze ormolu is in good order, as are the many pieces of mother-of-pearl. All the ornamentation is held into place with tacks (as is typical of the age of the piece, tacks were used, not glue). The measurements are: 9 3/4” across, 7” deep (front to back), 4 1/2” tall (table top to top of curved lid), the interior measures 2 1/4” deep. (Please note that the box is a true jet black. Some of the photos reflect the photographic lights which give a brown cast).
The mythological subject combined with the large size and ornamented lid give this box interest. It is a fine desk box from a period of luxury and appreciation for beauty.
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French Antiques: 19th Century French Smalls: Sewing, Religious, Bronze Figures-French Books and Bindings