Antique French Enamel Ormolu & Mother of Pearl Jewellery Casket 19th C


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Object Description

This is a magnificent antique French enamel, ormolu and mother of pearl casket fitted with a beautiful hand-painted Sevres porcelain plaque of Cupid, later converted to a charming sewing box, dating from the 19th Century.

This superb large casket is of elegant quatrefoil shape. The top features a stunning hand painted oval Sevres porcelain plaque of Cupid holding a torch. The body of the casket features intricate ormolu floral and foliage decoration against a charming mother of pearl and blue enamel background.

The hinged lid opens to reveal an exquisite red satin lining, and a brass lockplate that is inscribed “Maison Boissier”.

This casket is of superb quality, is incredibly beautiful and will instantly enhance any space in your house.

Complete with orignal working lock and key.

Provenance: West Heslerton Hall

In excellent original condition, been professionally cleaned and polished in our workshops. Please see photos for confirmation.

Dimensions in cm:
Height 11 x Width 32 x Depth 25

Dimensions in inches:
Height 4.3 x Width 12.6 x Depth 9.8

West Heslerton Hall is a 21-bedroom historic hall in West Heslerton village, a perfectly preserved, quintessential Yorkshire village. The village is the site of one of Britain’s largest archeological excavations, that of a large settlement which seems to have been occupied for several centuries until about 800 AD. The settlement flourished during late Roman /early Anglo-Saxon times, but may have been occupied for a considerable length of time before the arrival of Romans in Britain. The site covers over 110 acres (45 hectares) and contains the traces of more than 200 buildings.
The entire village was owned by the same family for over 150 years, until 2016, when the land and property remaining in Estate ownership was put up for sale for £20 million following the death of its last owner, Eve Dawnay, in 2010. Miss Dawnay was a great-granddaughter of William Henry Dawnay, 7th Viscount Downe, and of Lt.-Col. Arthur de Vere Capell, Viscount Malden, son of the 6th Earl of Essex.
The estate was purchased by Albanwise, a Norfolk-based land and property investment company controlled by the Italian count Luca Rinaldo Contardo Padulli di Vighignolo.

Ormolu – (from French ‘or moulu’, signifying ground or pounded gold) is an 18th-century English term for applying finely ground, high-carat gold in a mercury amalgam to an object of bronze.The mercury is driven off in a kiln leaving behind a gold-coloured veneer known as ‘gilt bronze’.

The manufacture of true ormolu employs a process known as mercury-gilding or fire-gilding, in which a solution of nitrate of mercury is applied to a piece of copper, brass, or bronze, followed by the application of an amalgam of gold and mercury. The item was then exposed to extreme heat until the mercury burned off and the gold remained, adhered to the metal object.

No true ormolu was produced in France after around 1830 because legislation had outlawed the use of mercury. Therefore, other techniques were used instead but nothing surpasses the original mercury-firing ormolu method for sheer beauty and richness of colour. Electroplating is the most common modern technique. Ormolu techniques are essentially the same as those used on silver, to produce silver-gilt (also known as vermeil).

Sevres Porcelain
traces its roots in France to early craftsmen who had small manufacturing operations in such places as Lille, Rouen. St. Cloud, and most notably Chantilly. It is from Chantilly that a cadre of workers migrated to the Chateau de Vincennes near Paris to form a larger porcelain manufactory in 1738.

French King Louis XV, perhaps inspired by his rumoured relationship with mistress Madame de Pompadour, took an intense interest in porcelain and moved the operation in 1756 to even larger quarters in the Paris suburb of Sevres. Sevres was also conveniently near the home of Madame de Pompadour and the King’s own Palace at Versailles.
From the outset the king’s clear aim was to produce Sevres Porcelain that surpassed the established Saxony works of Meissen and Dresden. Though the French lacked an ample supply of kaolin, a required ingredient for hard-paste porcelain (pate dure), their soft-paste porcelain (pate tendre) was fired at a lower temperature and was thus compatible with a wider variety of colours and glazes that in many cases were also richer and more vivid. Unglazed white Sevres Porcelain “biscuit” figurines were also a great success. However, soft-paste Sevres Porcelain was more easily broken. Therefore, early pieces of Sevres Porcelain that remain intact have become rare indeed.

The Sevres Porcelain manufactory always seemed to be in dire financial straits despite the incredibly fine works it produced. In fact, the king’s insistence that only the finest items be created may have contributed to the difficulties. Only a limited number of European nobility could afford the extravagant prices demanded for such works. King Louis XV and eventually his heir, the ill-fated Louis XVI, were obliged to invest heavily in the enterprise. Ultimately, the Sevres Porcelain Factory produced items under the name of “Royal” and thus the well-known Sevres mark was born. King Louis XV even mandated laws that severely restricted other porcelain production in France so as to retain a near monopoly for his Sevres Porcelain. The king even willingly became chief salesman for the finest of his products, hosting an annual New Year’s Day showing for French nobility in his private quarters at Versailles. He eagerly circulated among potential buyers, pitching the merits of ownership and policing the occasional light-fingered guest.
Sevres Porcelain may have indeed given the makers of Meissen and Dresden a run for their money by the end of the 18th Century but for the French Revolution. By 1800, the Sevres Porcelain Works were practically out of business due to the economic devastation of the new French Republic.

About the time when Napoleon Bonaparte named himself Emperor of France (1804), a new director was named for the Sevres Porcelain Manufactory. Alexandre Brongniart, highly educated in many fields, resurrected Sevres Porcelain. Soft-paste porcelain was eliminated altogether thanks to the earlier discovery of kaolin near Limoges. For four decades until his death, Brongniart presided over monumental progress for Sevres Porcelain, catering not only to Napoleon himself, but at last to include the more financially profitable mid-priced market in the emerging middle class.

Our reference: 09506

Object Details

  • material
  • dimensions
    W:32 x H:11 x D:25 centimeters
  • period
  • country
  • year
    circa 1850

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+44 (0)20 8809 9605

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Manor Warehouse
318 Green Lanes
N4 1BX

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