French Nécessaire de Voyage

 

This exceptional and rare silver-gilt-mounted French nécessaire de voyage, crafted by the renowned Royal goldsmith Jean-Charles Cahier, is truly one of the finest dressing sets ever created. As the goldsmith to the French Kings Louis XVIII and Charles X, Cahier made a specialty of crafting exquisite objects in the prevailing French taste, and this extraordinary case is no exception. Commissioned especially for the noble de Rostang family, this set exhibits an exquisitely executed Empire design that incorporates the de Rostang family crest on nearly every piece. The interior, lined with luxurious Moroccan leather, contains an impressive array of personal accouterments, all perfectly fitted in their own compartments in a sumptuous presentation.

Extremely sophisticated, this handsome case contains over 75 pieces ingeniously intertwined in its hollow mahogany case. Comprised of three levels, it includes all that one would need for his daily routine, including a tea and coffee services with all of the essential utensils. Beneath a tray of stunning mother-of-pearl knives and razors, one finds an array of items, from horse hair brushes and two pairs of scissors to tweezers and a deep silver basin. The vanity mirror, neatly tucked in the interior of the lid, can be removed with the touch of a button to stand independently on an extendable base. The case also houses a side drawer that unlocks to reveal a portable leather writing desk with its original two crystal inkwells – the perfect place to store one’s most important correspondence.

Travel became a key pastime for the affluent beginning in the 18th century. Young gentlemen and women of high social standing often traveled throughout the Continent in an extended, educational tour known as their Grand Tour. These lengthy journeys required a convenient means of transporting the personal belongings, or necessities, of daily life. Often constructed of luxurious materials such as silver, gold, mother of pearl, crystal, fine woods and leathers, these necessaries de voyage became highly personalized symbols of wealth and taste, carrying everything from toiletries and jewelry to sewing and writing instruments. The Emperor Napoléon himself possessed several of these travel sets, many of which were commissioned from Martin-Guillaume Biennais, the previous imperial goldsmith, as well as the mentor to Cahier. The present nécessaire represents a marvel of cabinetmaking and goldsmithing that clearly reveals the influence of Biennais on his talented successor.

Box marked Jean-Charles Cahier, spoons bear the mark of Francois-Dominique Naudin, Razors by M. Sirhenry. Guarantee and Standards marks for Paris, 1819-1838.

 

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