The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Louis Pottin (1700 - 1747) , Goldsmith
  • Possibly Joaguet, Enameller
  • Paris, France
  • 1738 - 1739
  • gold, enamel, agate
  • Object size: 3.9 x 8.5 x 7.6 cm
    Weight: 167.6 g
  • Maker's mark: 'L P' and five pointed star Parisian type
    Warden's mark: 'Y'. Maison Commune mark for gold, Paris 24th September 1739- 29th September 1739
    Charge mark: The charge for Gold of the Sous-fermier Louis Robin, Paris, 4th October 1738 - 3rd October 1744. Almost totally erased.
    Discharge mark: A head of a fox, for the sous-fermier Louis Robin (4th October 1738 3rd October 1744)
  • G2
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This box is chased with stylised shells, scrolls and pilasters, and enamelled with flowers in opaque colours and leaves in translucent green. The cover and base are set with agate.

    French snuffboxes dating from the first half of the 18th century with panels of hardstone are comparatively rare but became more popular in the middle of the century, Madame de Pompadour is known to have had eighteen hardstone snuffboxes at her death in 1764.

    Other boxes, such as one in the State Hermitage Museum by an unnamed maker dating to Paris 1736-37, and one by Jean–Louis Lacour, 1740-42 in the Louvre, are enamelled in a style very similar to this box, and are all thought to be associated with the enameller Joaquet, about whom little is known. The enamellers are often forgotten as they did not mark their work, (unlike goldsmiths who had to register their marks with the cour des Monnaies) but in the 18th century work by Joaquet appears to have been highly regarded.

    Snuffboxes played an important role in fashion and self-promotion, in diplomacy and, in the 19th century, in collecting. Often they were used as a currency for their monetary values and the status they could embody. Their practical purpose was often secondary – they were highly valued as art objects in their own right. Gold boxes were a barometer of the taste of the time and exemplify the skills of not only goldsmiths, but also enamellers, lapidaries and miniature painters.