BEAUTIFUL RARE 18TH CENTURY LOUIS XV FRENCH VERNIS MARTIN HAND PAINTED BILLET DOUX-LOVE LETTER HOLDER. This is a beautiful rare 18th Century Louis XV French Vernis Martin billet doux of such beauty and elegance, it must certainly have carried the love notes of someone from among the Courtiers of Louis XV's era.This very special Billet Doux dates to circa 1750 making it over 270 years old, the decoration is breath taking, with hand painted Bumble Bees, Butterflies, Ladybirds, Beetles etc, all in wonderful bright colours set against the Gold Ground to the body, to the top and bottom and also to the centre you will see a lovely delicate hand painted rich green scalloped border, to each end of the Billet Doux it has a hand painted ladybird, its breath taking, the body is crafted in Papier Mache which has survived all these hundreds of years its amazing. The quality of the craftsmanship is superb. This would have once belonged to a very wealthy Lady in The Palace of Versailles.
This box is so very tactile and once held it has the most wonderful feel. This will add something very special and rare to any collection, my photos dont do it justice. A very romantic item, the billet doux was the etui into which a rolled scroll of a love letter might be passed along or hand delivered by one's servant.A courier's'envelope' of sorts, these became so associated with the intimate love notes carried within, that today the term is itself a romantic one. This will add something very special to any collection, my photos dont do it justice.. The Billet Doux came in a myriad of forms, many survive and we see them in museums around the world. This one could well be on display in the Musee des Arts Decoratif in the Louvre in Paris, where many similar etui fascinate visitors every day. The case, typical of the genre, and is about 5 -1/4 inches in length, sometimes is confused as being a needles case, though of course it is not. This one is actually enameled in the Vernis Martin, a method of layering pigments and varnish a' la the brothers Martin, a method of surface decoration favoured by Marie-Antoinette which proliferated during her time, and can today be seen in many applications in her quarters at the Palace of Versailles.
The Billet Doux, literally a sweet note, is the term for a love letter, essentially, and often rolled and sent by courier inside a beautiful little tube like the one i have offered for sale. The tube is, itself known as a billet doux for this reason.The one i have on offer is French and dates to circa 1750 and would be hand painted. Martin Family were French lacquerware artists of the period of Louis XV. The Martin Family are remembered for perfecting the composition and application of vernis Martin, a lacquer substitute named after them, patented by Guillaume and Robert in 1730.
In 1748 their factory became part of the Royal Factory of Furnishings to the Crown. Among their commissions were coaches and rooms at Versailles. Vernis Martin, lustrous lacquer substitute widely used in the 18th century to decorate furniture and such personal articles as brisé fans and snuffboxes. The process of adding bronze or gold powder to green varnish was perfected by the Martin family, hence its name vernis Martin (Martin varnish). Another Martin family invention was the papier-mache snuffbox, billet Doux, which was highly lacquered.Despite being cheap to produce, the boxes were light, giving them immediate popularity. They were good enough to compete with gold-plated or golden snuffboxes. Martins lacquer art was greatly influenced by oil paintings and art by the goldsmiths. Highly praised by Voltaire, it was developed to imitate East Asian lacquerware being imported into France during the Louis XV period.
Vernis Martin was made in several colours, green and a golden red being the most characteristic. 5 -1/4 inches in length.
In lovely original condition with some crazing and small amounts of flaking loss as you would expect in Vernis Martin of this age and this would have hand a central band which is lacking though it still closes , just mentioned for accuracy. The item "RARE 18TH CENTURY VERNIS MARTIN HAND PAINTED BILLET DOUX LOVE LETTER HOLDER" is in sale since Tuesday, July 20, 2021. This item is in the category "Antiques\Silver\Solid Silver\Boxes". The seller is "silver_treasures" and is located in ledbury. This item can be shipped worldwide.