Travel during the late 16th century all the way through the early 19th century was considered a privilege and a symbol of wealth shared only by those who were fortunate enough to afford the luxury. Upon completing their academic studies, young gentlemen and women of high social standing would spend time traveling throughout Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome visiting the great masterpieces of art and architecture that they had studied throughout their time in school. These young socialites would travel for days, months, and even years absorbing all the cultural knowledge of their travels. Of course, these lengthy journeys required a convenient means of transporting their personal belongings, or necessities, of daily use.
Often constructed of luxurious materials such as silver, gold, tortoiseshell, fine woods and leathers, nécessaires were chests that held a wide range of ‘necessary’ scent bottles and small cosmetic tools for daily use. Each traveler’s nécessaire was unique in its own way and was often designed to reflect the owner's noble status. Not only were they practical travel kits, but they also were great symbols of wealth and personal taste.
In our gallery, we have several impressive nécessaires, each filled with everything from essential toiletries and jewelry to sewing and writing instruments.
The first chest, an English nécessaire de voyage, is a 24-piece nécessaire from 1849. Crafted of the finest coromandel wood, this stunning chest features a fitted, leather and green velvet-lined interior, and houses various cut crystal perfume bottles and utensils. The bottom compartment features a lockable drawer, perfect for concealing and protecting valuables. This case is both beautiful and practical.
The second chest is a similar, English nécessaire veneered with elegant coromandel wood. The interior of this impressive chest is comprised of 11 cut crystal boxes and jars with beautifully engraved silver gilt tops and toiletries accented with mother-of-pearl handles. This nécessaire also features two secret compartments, each opened by pressing discreet buttons located inside. This compact travel kit is perfect for light travel.
Nowadays, it is extremely rare to find such remarkable and personalized travel kits simply due to the fact that travel has become such a regular, everyday occurrence. These nécessaires offer an interesting glimpse into past methods of travel.
We’re excited to announce our first ever giveaway! Enter below for your chance to win this scholarly yet approachable book by William Rau!
This beautiful book sheds new light on the history of 19th-century European painting by examining the works of over 200 masters, covering dozens of movements from Romanticism to Impressionism, and everything in between. Masters of 19th-century art, including Corot, Bouguereau, Alma-Tadema, Godward, Monet, Renoir, van Gogh, Pissarro, Mönsted, Grimshaw, Dawson, Elsley, Vibert, Soulacroix, Herring, Sr., Delacroix, Courbet, Lewis, and Gerome are examined.
The winner will be announced 2 weeks from today, December 16, 2014. Good luck to all!