BEAUTIFUL FINE QUALITY RARE 18TH CENTURY GEORGIAN FRENCH VERNIS MARTIN HAND PAINTED BILLET DOUX-LOVE LETTER HOLDER. This is an exceptional and rare Beautiful 18th Century Georgian French Solid Silver Mounted Vernis Martin billet doux of such beauty and elegance, it would have carried the love notes of someone from among the Courtiers of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI's era.This very special Billet Doux dates to circa 1770 making it nearly 250 years old, the decoration is breath taking, a hand painted ground to the body in a rich bronze lacquer with a wonderful deep red and black vernis martin flowers in abundance, this contrasts beautifully against the rich bronze ground to the body, this has been finished beautifully with a solid silver mounted banding to the centre of the body which just gives this Vernis Martin Billet Doux and elegance of years past, this has been tested and is solid silver. To the inside you will see the most beautiful faux TORTOISESHELL interior. The quality of the craftsmanship is superb. 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 elegant 18th century Billet Doux is superb, both in form and in condition with just a little surface wear. These came in a myriad of forms, many survive and we see them in museums around the world. This one could sit well be on display in the Musee des Arts Decoratif in the Louvre in Paris, where many similar Billet Doux fascinate visitors every day.
The case, typical of the genre, and is nearly 5 inches in length an is sometimes is confused as being a needles case, though of course it is not. This one is actually enamelled in the Vernis Martin, a method of layering pigments and varnish 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 1770 and would be hand painted.
Martin Family, French lacquerware artists of the period of Louis XV. Biographical details of the career of the brothers Martin are scanty, but it is known that Guillaume, the eldest, was already in business in 1724. Their method and work must have come rapidly into vogue, for in 1730 Guillaume and Simon Martin were granted by letters patent a twenty years' monopoly, subsequently renewed. One of them was still in existence in 1785.The literature of their day had much to say of the Martin brothers. In Voltaire's comedy Nadine, produced in 1749, mention is made of a berline (carriage) "bonne et brillante, tous les panneaux par Martin sont vernis" ("good and bright, all the panels varnished by Martin"). The marquis de Mirabeau in L'Ami des hommes refers to the enamelled snuff-boxes and varnished carriages which came from the Martins' factory. At its best Vernis Martin has a sheen, polish, and translucence which compel admiration, the black with raised gold ornaments, the red, and finally in the green ground, powdered with gold, they reached the high-water mark of their art. This delicate work, poudré and wavy-lined with gold or semi with flowers overlaid with transparent enamel, is seen at its best on Billet Doux's, small boxes, fans, needle-cases and such-like.
The four brothers Robert Martin accomplished the most original and the most completely artistic work. The French Revolution finally extinguished a taste which had lasted for a large part of the 18th century, they 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 billet doux's, 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). All Antique silver items will show some signs of wear, which only adds to the history of the object.....The item "RARE GEORGIAN FRENCH VERNIS MARTIN HAND PAINTED BILLET DOUX-LOVE LETTER HOLDER" is in sale since Tuesday, November 5, 2019. This item is in the category "Antiques\Silver\Solid Silver\Boxes". The seller is "silver_antiques_uk" and is located in United Kingdom. This item can be shipped worldwide.