A pretty Art Deco Coty morpho butterfly wing embellished miniature powder compact from the 1930s with a tropical pictorial scene.
CONDITION: good vintage condition with signs of wear on the back
SIZE: 2 ins across (5 cm)
APPROXIMATE DATE: 1930s
MATERIALS: metal, glass, butterfly wing
CONDITION: may have minor scratches from being in storage.
SIZE: 2½ x 3 ins (6 x 7.5 cms)
This is a pretty compact whose base material is brass. The lid is brass and has an inset pictorial scene of a tropical landscape with palm trees and ocean. The ocean is made from morpho butterfly wing.
The compact is marked COTY. Paris on the back
Inside the lid is a mirror and a compartment for loose powder. The hinge is not loose and closure snaps shut and works well. There is a powder puff but no sifter. The case has case has previously contained product.
The collage photograph shows illustrations taken from contemporary ads for compacts, makeup and beauty products. Mid century advertisements were designed evoke an aura of glamour and romance.
Initially make up was regarded as rather daring and most compacts were imported from France. However attitudes were changing in the early 20th century and Coty was one of the great French perfume houses who began producing compacts in the 1920s and 1930s. These compacts usually have a base with a design on the back which resembles watered silk and are signed with COTY, Paris in a cartouche.
Most of the compacts utilizing wings from the morpho butterfly for decoration seem to have been produced somewhere between the 1920s and the 1950s. Thomas Mott who exhibited at the 1924 Great Empire Exhibition is credited with the rise in popularity of this art form. It was used to decorate not only powder compacts but also jewelry, small pictures, trays and other vanity objects.
This type of jewellery is not instantly recognizable as being made from butterfly wings because the wing itself forms the background of the piece, rather than the main feature. The colour of the wings are often a vibrant blue, so it lends itself to a water or sky motif. Then, an artist may reverse paint the forefront of the scene to make the piece of jewellery or vanity item that you are viewing.
The pictures of crinoline ladies, children or birds are considered the most desirable, but tropical paradise scenes are also appealing.
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