The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Henry-Guillaume Adnet (+1745) , Goldsmith
  • Paris, France
  • 1744 - 1745
  • Gold, mother-of-pearl and carnelian
  • Object size: 3.5 x 7.3 x 5.1 cm
    Weight: 192.4 g
  • Maker's mark: Includes 'A', crown and anchor. Mark of Henry (-Guillaume) Adent, goldsmith registered in Paris. 6th September 1712 - 4th October 1745.
    Warden's mark: 'D'. Maison Commune mark for gold, Paris. 6th July 1744 - 26th November 1745.
    Charge mark: The charge mark for gold of sous-fermier Antoine Leschaudel, Paris. 13th October 1744 - 1st October 1750.
    Discharge mark: A salmon head. The discharge mark for gold of the sous-fermier, Antoine Leschaudel, Paris. 13th October 1744 - 1st October 1750.
  • G6
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The decoration of this box comprises six panels of mother-of-pearl carved with scrolls and shells and encrusted with gold strapwork and flowers. The centre of the lid has a carnelian basket of gold flowers, and more chased gold cagework: it is the epitome of the rococo style and perfectly matched to the date of its manufacture, 1744-5.
    Notwithstanding his qualification and membership of the guild of goldsmiths, Adnet appears to have been more of a ‘marchand-orfèvre-joaillier’ (merchant-goldsmith-jeweller) than a simple goldsmith working at a bench. He ran an efficient manufacturing silver- and gold-smithing business with good connections to the aristocracy and the court. Other objects bearing his mark include the celebrated silver tureens made for the Duke of Kingston to designs by Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier (1695-1750), and it is most likely that his workshop also sub-contracted. Most probably his workshop assembled this box and the gold encrusted mother-of-pearl panels would have been produced by a specialist, but sadly anonymous, craftsman.
    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.