Exceptionally rare 19th century Napoleon III era French gilt bronze jewelry casket or box. Made by TAHAN, celebrated cabinetmaker for Emperor Napoleon III. The hinged lid surmounted with a finial modeled in the form of a child embracing a dog, a charming subject matter allegorizing friendship. Various ornamentation to this delightful serpentine form box, including ball finials and elaborate scrolling foliate decorated in green and white enameling. All four corners feature finely cast theatrical figures in costuming of a Renaissance or Elizabethan theme, including two ladies and two gentleman, one of whom is posed in thoughtful contemplation, while the other playing the villain as evidenced by the dagger he so fiercely holds. Rests on four ornate stylized feet. Signed on the lockplate TAHAN A PARIS. The lid opens to reveal a cream colored silk lined interior. Working lock and key. Good condition for such a fabulous box, filled with so much character and charm! Some wear to the enamel and to the gilt finish on the bronze consistent with age, the key is not original but works well, fabric lining is a replacement. Box measures 5 5/8" length x 4 5/8" wide x 5 5/8" tall.
Alphonse Tahan (1830-1880) was the official ébéniste de l'Empereur or master cabinet maker to Emperor Napoleon III and his wife, the Empress Eugénie. Known for her beauty and impeccable taste, the Empress Eugene enjoyed the reputation as a trend setter and favored the workshop Tahan. Tahan Fabricant was located at 30 Rue de La Paix from 1849 and subsequently from 1878 at Boulevard des Italiens. His work was exhibited at The London Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851 and the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1855, and on both occasions were awarded medals. His work exhibits such quality and is in high demand by collectors and enthusiasts alike. Not only did he produce furniture, but also small articles, such beautiful wooden boxes and fine bronze jewelry caskets.