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This fine Japanese lacquered snuff box was made in the first half of the 1700s and exported to France where it was fitted with gilded copper mounts for the local aristocratic market.
Objects fashioned from Japanese lacquer became very fashionable in France during the 18th century because they were collected by Marie-Antoinette, the consort of King Louis XVI of France.
The Queen’s collection of Japanese lacquer still forms part of the French National Collection.
The box here is decorated on its lid in gold against black with a temple or monastery complex alongside a waterfall and a stream with dramatically coursing rapids.
The interior and the base are decorated with gold and orange fleckwork.
The box is in near-perfect condition. There are no chips or restoration. The gilding to the copper mounts largely has worn away, as might be expected. It has incredible lightness in the hand. Overall, it is a marvel that it has survived in the way that it has, and is an especially delightful example of Japanese lacquer made for the European market in the 18th century.
Kopplin, M., Japanische Lacke: Die Sammlung de Konigin Marie-Antionette, Hirmer, 2002.