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Enamelled gold locket, by Henri Toutin

1637/1637

British Museum

British Museum

This virtuoso piece of enamelling is one of the earliest signed works by Henri Toutin (born 1614), The inside of the back is inscribed Henry Toutin Mt. Orphevre A Paris fecit 1637 ('Henri Toutin, master-goldsmith at Paris made it, 1637'). Henry was the son of Jean Toutin (1578-1644), a renowned goldsmith and enameller from Chateaudun. Jean is credited with the development in the early seventeenth century of a new technique of painting on an opaque enamelled gold ground using powdered enamel mixed with oil. He ran workshops in Blois and Paris, which from about 1630 produced painted enamel miniatures for the decoration of such small items as jewellery, watch-cases and boxes. These delicate, exquisitely painted enamels were extremely fashionable among the courts of Europe, and enamel workshops operated in Geneva, Berlin and Augsburg.

This gold locket is enamelled with miniature scenes which are probably based on print sources, and bear a similar strong graphic effect. On the front is a naval battle; on the back a military siege; on the inside of the cover is Diana and Actaeon.

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