This striking little vanity box in Karelian birch is typical for the craftsmanship of the workshops at Tula, south of Moscow. Originally established as the imperial armaments factory, by the mid-18th century the workshops at Tula had become known for the production of glamorous items decorated with diamond-like faceted steel studding, so sought after by the Russian court (see A. Chenevière, 'Steel Furniture from Tula', in Russian Furniture, London 1988, pp. 245-255.)
The early 19th century fashion for such beautifully fitted boxes was of course much more widely spread and the 'Tula-style' polished steel decoration was also produced by highly skilled Viennese craftsmen. A box with similar jewel-like mounts in cut-steel was given to Marie Clementine, the Archduchess of Austria as a wedding gift by her husband, the Prince of the two Sicilies (sold at Christie's New York, 18 May 2006, lot 717).