"JEB" (Joseph-Etienne Blerzy, Paris), flange number 504, 85 x 65 x 34 mm, 179 g, circa 1784
An exquisite, extremely rare French gold enamel snuff-box with miniature painting Case: 20k gold, makers punch mark "JEB" (Joseph-Etienne Blerzy), charge and discharge marks of Henri Clavel (1783-1789), Parisian guild punch mark "P84" of 1784. Oval box, all sides engine-turned and translucent red enamelled. The hinged lid inset with a central oval enamel plaque with very fine miniature painting of an allegorical scene, framed by a narrow gold band. All sides with applied gold borders, with applied translucent green enamelling: foliate scrolls and opalesque pearls on a mattfinished "sablè" ground. The sides are also decorated with four stylised pilaster strips mit oval medallions with translucent enamelling; the medallions are adorned with brown branches with translucent enamelled green ribbons and enamel pearls.
The allegorical portrait shows an empress in an ermine robe, wearing a blue sash and a laurel crown; she is reaching out for an open book on a stand before her. The book is held by Clio, the muse of history. To the right of the empress is armour-clad Minerva, the personification of wisdom and strength. At her feet kneel a youth holding a small dog in his hands and a personification of charity. The portrait most likely shows Maria Theresa, Empress of Austria (1717-1780), who was known not only as a great sovereign, but also for her charitable efforts. Under her reign the Austrian monarchy in the 18th century grew strong and centralised. Maria Theresa founded the house of Habsburg-Lorraine and was its only female ruler.
Provenance: Alan and Simone Hartman Collection
Joseph-Etienne Blerzy was apprenticed in Paris to François-Joachim Aubert in 1750, and it was he who sponsored him as master in 1768 when Blerzy was living on the pont au Change. His shop was called the "Ville de Leipzick" but the house was demolished in 1786 and he moved to the rue de la Monnaie. He had moved again before 1805, when he is recorded at 118 rue du Coq-St.Honoré, but in the following year he is listed at number 3 in the same street. Blerzy must have died some time shortly after this since the 1809 edition of Douet lists "BOISOT (la dame) VE.BLERZY Victoire" at the same address and stated that she struck her mark on 6 April 1808. She is listed by Azur at the same address in 1810. Source: "The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Gold Boxes" by Charles Truman, London 2013, p. 336.
Estimate 39,000 - 60,000 €
Price Realised 51,900 €
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