Oeuvre

AN OVAL GOLD BOX SET WITH MINIATURES DEPICTING THE HARBOUR OF BREST


PARIS, vers 1816.
By Adrien-Jean-Maximilien VACHETTE.

Signed « VACHETTE ET OUIZILLE BIJOUTIER DU ROI À PARIS »
The miniature signed and dated at the back by LIOUX DE SAVIGNAC, 1781.

In its original case.

Height: 2, 6 cm (1 in.)
Length: 8, 2 cm (3 ¼ in.)
Width: 6, 1 cm (2 ⅜ in.)

Marks:
- Goldsmith: a rooster, two grain, AV in a lozenge
- A head of a child, 2nd title for Paris 1795-1797 but probably still used after.
- Engraved “20 K. 5.” on the inner border.

The miniature on the lid represents the view of the Brest’s harbor after Nicolas Van Blarenberghe. It is signed on the back “entrée du port de Brest d’après le tableau original peint à Brest en 1774. Par de Lioux de Savignac 1781 à Paris” (entrance of the Brest harbor after an original painting painted in Brest in 1774. By de Lioux de Savignac 1781 in Paris”. The sides are adorned with four views of harbors at different times of the day and the night inspired by Horace Vernet alternating with grayish terminal figures representing the Four Seasons. Underneath, a view of a storm near a lighthouse also in the style of Vernet is signed at the back “de Lioux de Savignac Pinxit 1781”.

This exceptional snuffbox is decorated with miniatures signed by Claude-Edmé-Charles de Lioux de Savignac (1734-1786) and dated 1781. For an unknown reason, these gouaches were mounted by Vachette and Ouizille under the Restoration. We can discern the extraordinary virtuosity and thoroughness of Lioux de Savignac who recreated at the same time the topographic details and the animation of the pier in the foreground.
Lioux de Savignac was an excellent miniaturist whose works of art were inspired by Vernet’s paintings but also, as it is the case here, of his rivals the Van Blarenberghes. A very similar snuffbox is housed at the Louvre. A second snuffbox, also preserved at the Louvre, represents topographic views of the Ferté-Vidame Castle (inv. OA 11922) painted circa 1769-1770.

Six views of the Brest’s harbor were represented by Louis-Nicolas Van Blarenberghe and his son Henri-Joseph during a trip to Brest between January 18th and April 2nd 1773 by order of the Marine State secretary Pierre Etienne Bourgeois de Boynes in order to complete the series of French harbors by Vernet. He came back with six views, which were used as models for different gouaches and oils. Another snuffbox, which used to be preserved at Waddesdon Manor shows the different harbor views.

Adrien-Jean-Maximilien Vachette associated himself with Charles Ouizille, former jeweler of Louis XVI, after the Revolution. They were appointed jewelers of Louis XVIII in 1816.