Rectangular envelope-style pocketbook with flap, 110 x 179 mm., pasteboards covered in ivory silk embroidered with polychrome and silver-gilt silk thread (red, blue, several shades of green, brown, pink, orange, beige), the covers each with a different floral decor consisting of a large flowering plant with a straight stem entwined at the foot with a multi-colored ribbon, with one central flower, four large lateral flowers and four small flowers emerging from two lateral leafy branches, each blossom in a different design with large petals of couched silver-gilt thread and multi-colored stamens and other flower parts, adorned with four small butterflies on the flap side and two on the back side, a different design in the same theme continuing onto the flap; braided green and beige binding along edges, pink satin lining (gussets torn). Rubbing along lower edge and to a few other small areas of the silk covering, some loss and old repairs to braided edges, but the embroidery intact and in very good condition; the silver-gilt thread oxidized except under the flap.***
A beautifully designed and executed embroidered pocketbook for ladies. Not a purse, this richly decorated textile envelope would have been used to carry notes or letters; a portefeuille in French, it is sometimes called a wallet in English. Such useful embroidered objects were produced by the same skilled professional (male) embroiderers who decorated bookbindings.
The large boisterous flowers of this whimsical example have an Art Nouveau feel. The liberal use of silver-gilt thread would have made for a brilliant effect, as is evident from the untarnished portions hidden by the flap. Item #2991