The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Jean-François Breton (1713 - c. 1791) , Goldsmith
  • Paris, France
  • 1749 - 1750
  • Gold and enamel
  • Object size: 3.5 x 7 x 5.1 cm
    Weight: 178.2 g
  • Maker's mark: Mark of The letters 'J F' with 'B' below, and between them a five pointed star. Gold smith registered in Paris, 7 October 1737 until 1791. Parisian type
    Warden's mark: 'I' of the Maison Commune mark for gold, Paris, 1 October 1750 - 1 October 1756.
    Charge mark: An arm, for the sous-fermier Antoine Leschaudel, Paris, 13 October 1744 - 1 October 1749.
    Discharge mark: A head of a hen, for the sous-fermier Julien Berthe, Paris, 1 October 1750 - 1 October 1756.
    Small guarantee mark: Eagle's head in profile, the restricted warranty mark for gold, Paris, 10 May 1838 - 31 December 1846. The petite garentie for gold objects in Paris
    Inscription: 'No. 8 tab V6 / Le fond Emaillé / Sujet Pastorale' Inscribed on a rectangular piece of paper in faded ink
  • G9
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This rectangular gold snuffbox has been chased with parallel horizontal lines beneath a pattern of leaves. Decoration in the form of figures, animals and landscape have been enamelled en plein (enamel added directly on the surface) in both opaque and translucent colours.

    On the cover is a scene taken from an engraving by Pierre Aveline of La Vue from a series of the Five Senses published by Nicolas Contat, which shows a shepherdess gazing at her reflection in a stream watched by a shepherd and two figures. The reflection on the box has been engraved en basse taille (low relief engraving) which means that, we too can see the reflection she is looking at in the stream. The other sides depict similar pastoral scenes; on the base a shepherd asleep by a tree; on the front a shepherdess playing a pipe; on the back a fisherman; on the right-hand side two rabbits and on the left-hand side two exotic birds. The style of decoration, with only the faces in polychrome enamel is very similar to that of Sevrès porcelain in the 1750’s.

    Snuffboxes played an important role in fashion and self-promotion, 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.