Item #4335 A letter-holder or pocketbook made by a child. DECOUPAGE — POCKETBOOK.
A letter-holder or pocketbook made by a child.
A letter-holder or pocketbook made by a child.

A letter-holder or pocketbook made by a child. [France, ca. 1775].

Rectangular envelope-style pocketbook with flap, 102 x 151 x 5 mm., composed of pasteboards covered in pink paper and edged in green glazed paper with neatly cut out sawtooth edges, both covers and outer flap adorned with cut-out engravings of animals in their habitats, traces of lacquer, stubs of ties at flap point, the inner flap lettered in brown ink, ca. 1800, “Petit portefeuille que ma mère avait fait lorsqu’elle était enfant. (Environ en 1775).” A few small spots, some staining of lacquer on front cover, one or two minor wrinkles and chips to border, but overall fine. ***

An 18th-century pocketbook, made by a child, and decorated with cut-out engravings, this lovely, brightly colored pocketbook sports on the front cover a grazing sheep, a bounding rabbit, and two rabbits munching on plants; and on the back cover a saddled horse rearing above a gesticulating monkey, with a bird flying overhead. A wonderful and rare example of child-made decoupage.

The five cut-outs, lightly colored, probably originated in one of Martin Engelbrecht’s albums or sheets of engravings. The engrossing domestic art form of decoupage, which occupied millions of mainly woman- and children-hours throughout Europe during the 18th century, entailed the cutting up of prints, usually hand-colored, and their application to paper, furniture, or textiles. An entire industry, based in Augsburg and dominated by the publisher Martin Engelbrecht, catered to the hobby: Engelbrecht produced thousands of sheets of engravings, with subjects grouped systematically, precisely for the purpose of cutting them up. Called Ausschneidebogen, they were disseminated throughout Europe. Engelbrecht died in 1756; his heirs continued the firm, reissuing the many plates, but apparently producing no new ones (Metken, p. 102).

From the many thousands of objects decorated throughout Europe using scissors and paste, “only a very few pieces survive today. These ephemeral trinkets were not considered worth keeping; no museums considered themselves responsible, with the result that — as is often the case — the objects that were in their time the most ordinary and ubiquitous are now among the rarest” (Metken, p. 105, transl.). This child’s production is an unusual survival.

Cf. Sigrid Metken, Geschnittenes Papier: eine Geschichte des Ausschneidens in Europa von 1500 bis heute (Munich, 1978).

Item #4335

Price: $5,000.00