Napoleon III Chinoserie Large French Box with Decorations


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We kindly suggest you read the whole description, because with it we try to give you detailed technical and historical information to guarantee the authenticity of our objects. Rare and precious large black lacquered wood box; it has a well-proportioned shape that makes its capacity ample and well-usable; it is made of fruitwood because the Master cabinetmaker who made it needed a soft wood to handcraft all the housings for the decorations with which he wanted to finish the box. With meticulous care he inserted perfectly shaped pieces of mother-of-pearl into the housings, succeeding in creating a set of exceptional and magnificent leaf decorations alternating with elaborate pure gold designs of incredible refinement and elegance. To further enhance the charm of the box he used a wide range of shades of mother-of-pearl-pink, green, blue, gray, white-so much so that the flowers look finely painted rather than inlaid. The design is in the "chinoiserie" style; on the lid, we can see elements reminiscent of Chinese landscapes, but a typical church from the French countryside was also included! The box was made between 1860 and 1865 in a high-end cabinet-making workshop in Paris because only the most skilled Master cabinet-makers were able to make a work of art like our box. The term "chinoiserie," which derives from the French word "chinois," was a Western style that arose between the 17th and 18th centuries and denotes that chinoiserie did not come directly from Asia, but was an imaginative European interpretation of Asian culture; this style developed particularly in the decorative arts, architecture, literature, theater, and music; France was the most prolific European nation in the production of chinoiserie. The production of lacquered objects with mother-of-pearl inlays can be traced back to China, where it reached enormous popularity in the Táng period (618-907 CE); while during the Ming (1368-1644 CE) and Qing (1644-1912 CE) periods it reached the height of refinement with the application of gold, silver, and other precious materials shining through under the thin layers of mother-of-pearl. Soon this technique arrived in Europe, where there was no shortage of skilled cabinetmakers, thus the production of "chinoiserie" style objects was born. This type of inlay is the result of several stages of workmanship: the choice of the most suitable wood, the selection of shells and their cutting, the design to be made and its tracing on the artifact, the many stages of lacquering, the placement of the sections of mother-of-pearl and their insertion into the wood. Each lacquer item with mother-of-pearl inlays may require up to 45 successive passes of workmanship (in our box we can say that it took more than 90 passes to arrive at the final state). Mother of pearl is normally obtained from the so-called "sea ear" shell (Haliotis tuberculata) and conch or queen shell (Strombus or Lobatus Gigas). In general, the box has small defects (see photos), which together with a beautiful antique patina make the object even more interesting and testify to its age and authenticity. Measures width cm.39, width cm.29, height cm.20. For all our shipments we use special packaging materials (wooden crates, styrofoam, etc.) for maximum protection and safety of the objects.

Current list price: €1.950,00

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A return for this item may be initiated within 14 days of delivery. Buyer pays return shipping.
19th century (1800-1899)
Place of origin:
Dimensions (cm):
20H x 39W x 29D
Dimensions (inch):
7,87H x 15,35W x 11,42D
Creator / Artist:
Good; Wear consistent with age and use. In general, the box has small defects (see photos), which together with a beautiful antique patina make the object even more interesting and testify to its age and authenticity.
Inventory ID:
Payment options:
Credit card,
Debit card
Shipping options:
International - YES
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