A rare and beautiful Gold & Silver Inlaid, Blond Tortoise 'Boite A Mouche' often called a 'Patch Box', France, circa 1750.
During the reigns of Louis XIV, XV, and XVI the affectation of applied 'Beauty Marks' became popular with ladies of the French Nobility. During hours of state affairs, balls, salons, etc. a titled lady might be called upon to refresh her toilette. She carried a beautiful little 'Boite A Mouche' as her place in 'La Societe' and vanity demanded.
Creaters of vertu in 18th century Paris vied to catch her eye and win her favor. This beautiful Blonde Tortoise compartmented box, inlaid with two colors of gold, and silver would have been a lovely accessory item for the titled lady.
The box is constructed of rare 'Blonde' tortoise panels with finely made ormou hinges now retaining 95% of their original gold (solid gold hinges would have been impractical due to gold's softness). The lid of this box is bordered by sixty beautifully inlaid yellow gold five point stars, the field contains 20 inlaid pink gold five point stars arranged in pattern with 29 patterned silver inlaid 'dots'. The central inlaid design is that of an engraved songbird on a flowering cherry tree branch executed in engraved silver and gold. There is a small mother of pearl inlay below the bird. The interior of the box is divided into one large and two lidded compartments. The interior lids are inlaid with gold and silver engraved floral designs - the left lid also has a 'heart'.
The box is in excellent condition with tight joints, some very light handling marks as one should see on an eighteenth century object, and excllent patina. The gold and silver inlay is in excellent condition with crisp engraving. The mother of pearl 'bit' may or may not indicate a repair.
Luxury items by French artists containing precious metals and pre-dating the French Revolution of 1789 are rare. The common citizens of France did not respect the aristocracy's vertu. This lovely piece has been ours since 1981. It was found in Rhode Island/Southeastern Mass. and may have arrived in the US as a consequence of the French breaking British occupation of Newport, RI during the American Revolution.
A fine and beautiful eighteenth century artifact for the knowledgeable collector.
Dimensions: width 2 1/4"(56mm), depth 1 11/16"(44mm), height 15/16"(24mm)