Naples, mid 18th century, later French import marks
of sinuously undulating rectangular form, decorated in engraved mother of pearl and gold piqué posé, point et clouté, the lid with ruins and exotic flowering plants within rocaille scrolls, flowers and leafy tendrils, gold mounts and shaped thumbpiece, the interior complete with gold-capped faceted glass scent bottles and wave-edged funnel
Piqué work is said to have been invented in Naples towards the end of the 16th century and was then developed by a certain Laurentini, a Neapolitan jeweller, in the mid 17th century. Be that as it may, gold and silver piqué work of varying complexity is to be found soon after in many European centres. It would appear, however, that such refined piqué work including inlaid mother of pearl, as in this example, was indeed a Neapolitan speciality. The shell was softened by heating it in boiling water with olive oil and then impressing the engraved mother of pearl segments and the metal either in hairlike strips (coulé) or dots (point) or larger sections (posé). Although the names of some eminent Neapolitan practitioners of the art are known from signatures, such as Sarao and de Laurentiis, very little is known about the trade in general. It was certainly patronised by the royal family and it is presumed that the artists based their designs, often featuring ruins, on Augsburg prints supplied through the auspices, or at least influence, of Maria Amalia of Saxony, wife of Carlo III.
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