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Small footed souvenir glass jewelry box with image of the Palace of Justice in Paris, c.1860s


A delicate glass-sided jewelry box handpainted with the Palace of Justice in Paris on the top. The writing reads " de Paris / Palais de Justice." (Souvenir is a now archaic abbreviation in French - of Paris) With a small handle and gold-washed brass feet. Oddly, it opens at the front. Inside is a cream cushion with a little brass hook in it. A souvenir piece from the late 1860s.

The painting is incredibly detailed, and quality of craftsmanship is higher than on the usual souvenir boxes. This magnificent gilded jewel at the heart of Paris, the Palace of Justice, was the seat of judiciary power in the city. The building is flanked by the Conciergerie, where Marie Antoinette spent her last evening, and the royal chapel Sainte Chapelle, a blue and red explosion of medieval stained glass.

The architects responsible for the Palace of Justice were Honoré Daumet and Joseph-Louis Duc. Duc, other than erecting the Colonne de Juillet at the site of the former Bastille, the place being another symbol of governmental power, spent his life working on this building, Le Palais de Justice. Finally finished in 1868, it was honored with The Grand Prix de l'Empereur, which helped declare it the most beautiful building of the decade.

This was an early travel souvenir produced soon after its completion. Usually, the painting is scraped from the glass; the grandchild of the Grand Tour traveler who brought a box like this back often appreciated the simpler lines of Art Deco rather than the comparative fussiness of this era. We date it specifically to the 1860s. No one came to Paris in the 1870s, after all - unless they cared to dine on rats or zoo animals in the beautiful new boulevard cafes or witness the summary execution of hundreds of people at the walls of Père Lachaise...

In fair to good condition. One chip on the top glass, bottom right-hand corner. Hinge works well, and clasp still attaches to the box. Some bending to metal legs. A few minor scratches in the glass and some wear to the metal. The cushion is original but very frayed and loose from the box. It measures 4 7/8 x 3 x 2 1/2 inches and weighs 11 1/2 oz.


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