Rare « boîte à mouches »* with circular form in box tree and earthenware of Moustiers.
It has a polychrome decoration of great fire, with the bottom decorated by a mythological
scene of Diane chasseresse while the lid is discovered with a plate on which we find the coat
of arms « from Azur, with a band of gold, accompanied in chief by a lion of the same, armed
et lampassed of gule » of the family Pierre de Bernis with its motto « Armed for the King »
and framed by two lions under a crown of marquis.
This crown allows us to attribuate this box to Philippe-Charles-François de Pierre de Bernis
(1714-1774), who was the first marquis of Pierre de Bernis following the decision in 1751 of
King Louis XV to raise the family’s lands into a marquisate.
The earthenware plates attributable to the manufacture of Olérys-Laugier of Moustiers.
The boxwood box, made by the turners of the village of Aiguines, located about ten
kilometers from Moutiers.
Very good condition.
Provence, Louis XV period, around 1750-1760.
Diameter : 7 cm ; Height : 3.5 cm
The « mouches »*, these small beauty spots in taffeta or velvet that we stick on the skin,
appeared to hide the buttons of the smallpox.
It was only a little later in 1796 that the smallpox vaccine was discovered and that the
« mouche » became an aesthetic element for the fops.
Also called « advantageous spot », the « mouche » is a small piece of taffeta or black velvet
that was glued on the skin to bring out the whiteness and brightness of the complexion.
It is one of the main accessories of beauty, fashion and gallantry from the mid-seventeenth
century. Its first mention appears in 1655 in a gallant play by De Laborde.
It is the baroque accessory par excellence.
The coquettes sometimes used them to excess : they could wear more that fifteen of them. If
they were generally plump women, under Louis XV, they were also cut in the shape of a
heart, a moon, a comet, a crescent, a star, a shuttle.
They were not reserved for women, men also wore them but in smaller numbers.
The « mouche » was above all a gallant and seductive instrument, kept in small boxes
specially designed for this purpose, named the « boîtes à mouches ».
Our view :
The « boîte à mouches » that we present is a rare example made by the Manufacture de
Moustiers for one of the most important families of Languedoc, the Pierre de Bernis family.
This house has its origins in the barony of Ganges in Languedoc, known since the eleventh
century, especially the first crusade in 1098.
Besides the seigniory of Ganges, the house of Pierre owned in the Middle Ages the lands of
Sumène, Pouplan, Montolieu, Londtes, Cazillac, Gignac, and the baronies of Pierrefort,
This family, which was distinguised both in social life and the clergy, saw its fame go beyond
the borders thanks to François-Joachim de Pierre de Bernis (1715-1794).
The prelate, who was also a diplomat and a man of letters, was appointed cardinal (1758) ;
ambassador to Venice (1752-1755), minister of state (1757), secretary of state for foreign
affairs (1757-1758) and finally chargé d’affaires to the Holy See (1769-1791).
In addition to its illustrious owner and its rich decoration, our box has the merit of having
reached us in perfect condition, which is rare in view of the fragility of this type of decoration
which could not withstand the slightest fall.
1 200 €