The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Pierre Croissant (active between: fl. 1721 - 1747) , Goldsmith
  • Paris, France
  • 1740 - 1741
  • Gold
  • Object size: 3.5 x 8 x 5.8 cm
    Weight: 196.5 g
  • Maker's mark: 'P. C.' Mark of Pierre Croissant, goldsmith registered in Paris. 8th March 1721 - 1747/8.
    Warden's mark: 'A'. Maison Commune mark for gold 29 December 1740 - 8th March 1742.
    Charge mark: The charge for gold of the sous-fermier Louis Robin, Paris 4th October 1738- 3rd October 1744.
    Discharge mark: A head of a fox, for the sous-fermier Louis Robin, Paris 4th October 1738 - 3rd October 1744.
    Inscription: 'No. 42' Engraved
  • G3
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The Maltese cross with undulating lines radiating outwards and the side panels of basketwork decoration on this box are all engine turned.
    The art of ornamental turning on a lathe (‘rose engine turning’) had been well established in Europe certainly since the late fifteenth century, principally on softer materials such as wood, ivory or horn. The use of an ornamental turning lathe to decorate precious metal would appear to have been a late seventeenth-century development. It is unlikely that Pierre Croissant, the goldsmith who marked this box, would have carried out this kind of decoration himself, but he would probably have sent it to a specialist turner. We know little about who these men were, but the names of Gorin, Girod and Blanchett survive. In the eighteenth century turning was still considered a princely pastime: Peter the Great of Russia, Louis XVI of France and George III of Great Britain were all keen turners.
    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. Although used for snuff-taking, 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.