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Savon Violette de Parme / Paul Tranoy


Circa 1900
9 3/8'' x 13''

Parma violets first appeared in Europe in the 16th Century, and their delicate violet scent has since lent its name to a variety of products, most famously the eponymous hard British candies wrapped in a cellophane roll. Paul Tranoy's Violette de Parme soap, which was sold boxed under this chromolithographic label, first appeared at the close of the 19th Century.

This is one of the most stunning soap labels produced by any manufacturer, and a museum-worthy example of French Art Nouveau at its pinnacle. All the critical elements are represented: natural elements, rich coloring and metallics, a sense of organic proportion that utilizes symmetry without strictly enforcing it. Few other labels employed colors as rich as the red fields here, which are ornamented with gilded Ginkolike leaves (gilded florals would remain popular long after Art Nouveau fell out of fashion; the fascination with such Egyptian motifs was sustained by periodic archaeological discoveries.) This is also a skilled variation on the meta-label; the gold edging gives a strong sense of a framed view of violets, which simultaneously creep into the foreground. This adept realist device provides the label with depth, as does the negative space around the flowers themselves.

Paul Tranoy was based in Paris, which was the main domestic market for such luxury goods. Violette de Parme was designated No. 545 in their stable of merchandise.

The label is shipped as shown, in gilded framing and archival cream matting.



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