An Important Chatelaine

A chatelaine is a hook-like clasp with a series of extending chains from which to suspend a watch, keys, seal, and other necessary trinkets for the mistress of the chateau. This fashionable accessory, worn at the waist, was predominantly seen in France during the 18th and 19th centuries. The present chatelaine, from which a similarly fine pocket watch was probably suspended, was likely converted for continued enjoyment by moving two links to the center drop and adding the three rose-cut diamond pampilles. One of the finest examples ever to come to auction, it dates from the third quarter of the 18th century. 

Chatelaine by Jean-Baptise Lenoir, Louvre, Paris
Pocket watch by Jean-Baptiste Baillon, Louvre, Paris

chatelaine in the Louvre by Jean-Baptiste Lenoir, with its identical form and gold work, corroborates the date for the present lot. A fine pocket watch by Jean-Baptiste Baillon, also in the Louvre's collection, provides similar dating and features an enamel portrait of a young woman winding wool yarn. The same subject appears in the present lot along with four genre scenes, each copying a painting by Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725 – 1805), known for sentimental or moralizing portraits which were fashionable in the period. The largest and most prominent featured on the chatelaine, A Girl with a Dead Canary, resides in the Scottish National Gallery, while Young Knitter Asleep (1759) is at The Huntington, San Marino and The Wool Winder is in The Frick Collection, New York City.

The quality, age, and condition of this chatelaine combine to make it one of the most rare and important to come to auction.

A Girl with a Dead Canary by Jean-Baptise Greuze, Scottish National Gallery