A Bilston enamel Scent Flask, South Staffordshire, circa 1765

Both sides of this enamel scent flask are painted with  Watteauesque scenes depicting courting couples in bucolic landscapes. These are surrounded by raised gilt scroll cartouches and reserved on a deep blue ground decorated with scattered gilt flowers and foliage.

Exquisite ‘toys’ such as this would have been treasured gifts and tokens of esteem between lovers. The vignettes evoke an interest in the picturesque landscape, whilst the gilt scrolls reflect the prevailing Rococo taste.

During the second half of the 18th century, the Midlands, especially areas around South Staffordshire and Birmingham, were centres for the production of small, metalwork items such as this scent flask.

Condition: There is a tiny shallow chip to one side, although this is not obvious as it disappears into the painted decoration. The gilt chain and stopper are lacking.

Dimensions: Height 7 cm 

English Painted Enamels, Therle and Bernard Hughes (Country Life, 1951).