The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Jean Frémin (active between: 1738-1786) , Goldsmith
  • After Alexandre-François Desportes (1661 - 1743), scenes
  • Paris, France
  • 1756 - 1757
  • Gold
  • Object size: 3.5 x 7 x 5 cm
    Weight: 150.4 g
  • Maker's mark: 'J F' over an eagle's head seen in profile. Mark of Jean Fremin, goldsmith registered in Paris, 24 September 1738 - 1786. Almost completely erased in the right-hand wall
    Warden's mark: 'Q' of the Maison Commune mark for gold, Paris, 20 July 1756 - 15 July 1757. Almost completely erased in the right-hand wall
    Charge mark: A head of an ox, for the sous-fermier Julien Berthe, Paris, 1 October 1750-51 - October 1756. Almost completely erased in the right-hand wall
    Discharge mark: A shell, for the fermier Eloy Brichard and Etienne Somfoye, Paris, 1 October 1756 - 1 October 1762.
    Mark: The French contingent mark for gold and silver on the market 'by chance' (literally par hazard) but not denoting any standard, 19 June 1798 - 31 August 1809.
  • G22
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • On the cover, base and front wall of this box are scenes of dogs putting up game birds, ultimately derived from paintings by Alexandre-François Desportes (1661-1743) but no exact model has been identified. The reserves on all six sides of the box are decorated with floral and animal motifs in red, white and yellow gold, bordered by scrolls and flowers on a chased sunburst background. This sunburst background was a popular motif throughout the 1750s and can be seen on other boxes in the collection.
    Four-colour gold is achieved by adding silver for a green or white gold, copper for a pink or red gold, and iron for a yellow gold. The subtle but striking effects that are achieved add an extra richness to the box and are testament to the extraordinary levels of workmanship achieved by Parisian goldsmiths of the eighteenth century.

    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.