I've written much about the layered varnish and paint decorative manner favored by Marie-Antoinette, and developed by the Brothers Martin, afterward known simply as "Vernis Martin", and this is a masterpiece of that era and style. Most interesting, apart from the Louis XV to XVI paintings is the fact that the box is entirely made of agate, has either a 16k gold or very deeply coated 16k gold on silver mount (acid test at 16k), and is made in the manner of the Prussian/German agate boxes of that era. This one a patch box or patch and snuff, 2 compartments up top with separately hinged lids which have a continuous painting in miniature of the Palace at Versailles.Carriage of the King, horse-mounted guards leading its arrival. The side panels are each painted, and the bottom shows another superb scene of the same Royal carriage arriving at a country Palace - possibly d'Amboise though I'm not certain. I've been there, and it looks like the small chapel in distance within which lies remains of Leonardo d'Vinci. The art work is incredible - tiny portraits, impossibly fine detail. And surely has been a Royal possession, such is the quality and condition. I've never seen Vernis Martin accomplished on stone - agate in this case, reminding one of the Idar-Oberstein specimen boxes and goods. Very good to excellent condition for age and type. Remarkable, the state of preservation. From such an estate comes this museum piece. There are no chips, no cracks nor hairline in the agate panels, the outer 2 of which are arched. The frame, which I still feel is probably silver with a very heavy coating of 16k gold rather than solid 16k, has a very old small solder on one corner, but is otherwise excellent. The paintings, 9 panels in all, are just magnificent, little if any loss at all, even on the bottom one.
As if it's been on a brace mount for museum display, and never rested on its bottom. Quite remarkable in all ways. We're easy to deal with.
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