Exposé en salle

Date : Entre 1746 et 1747
Support and technique : Bois (matériau), Vernis, Or
Size : H. 12.4 cm x D. 2.8 cm x P. 45.1 g
Inventory number : J 592
Poinçon de charge : Poinçon d'Antoine Leschaudel
Poinçon de décharge : Poinçon d'Antoine Leschaudel
Poinçon de jurande : (F)
Poinçon : Traces de poinçons non identifiés
Numéro de délivrance du legs : A l'encre rouge : "H. 187-3"

Towards the end of the 17th century, the taste for exotic decorations and techniques and the high cost of producing Japanese lacquer led Europeans to take steps to master this material. The study of this technique led skilful craftsmen, including, in the 1730s,  the Martin brothers, whose fame caused their name to be associated with their technique, to rediscover this smooth, deep finish and to imitate oriental productions with talent. These varnishes are made from a fossil resin and developed using the same principle as Far Eastern lacquer, that of superimposed layers. The introduction of colour is one of the specific characteristics of French lacquer.

By developing the technique in this way, painter-varnishers, under the impetus of haberdashery merchants, were able to satisfy their customers’ tastes. The iconography gradually moved away from Asian scenes and landscapes to integrate the art of contemporary painters. In the 1740s, lacquered papier-mâché cases and snuff boxes became  flagship small luxury objects, also described as jewels. As this technique is lighter than metalworking, it makes the items easier to carry in a pocket or bag. Described as "a box which is used to put, carry and keep something in", the cases are small hollow round containers with a lid, designed to contain small sewing or cleansing utensils.

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