The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Jean Charles Simphorien Dubos (1719 - 1781) , Goldsmith
  • Jean Charles Simphorien Dubos (1719 - 1781), Goldsmith
    After François Boucher (1703 - 1770), scenes
    After David Teniers the Younger (1610 - 1690), scenes
    After Charles-Nicolas Cochin, scenes
    After Étienne Jeaurat (1699 - 1789), scenes
    After Edmé Bouchardon (1698 -1762), scenes
  • Paris, France
  • 1756 - 1757
  • Gold and enamel
  • Object size: 4.2 x 8.5 x 6.7 cm
    Weight: 207 g
  • Maker's mark: 'J C D' with a heart, mark of Jean-Charles-Simphorien Dubos, goldsmith registered in Paris, 28 June 1748 - before 1766.
    Warden's mark: 'Q' of the Maison Commune mark for gold, Paris, 20 July 1756 - 15 July 1757.
    Warden's mark: 'S' of the Maison Commune mark for gold, Paris, 21 July 1758 - 12 July 1759.
    Charge mark: A head of an ox, for the sous-fermier Julien Berthe, Paris, 1 October 1750 - October 1756.
    Charge mark: The charge for gold of the fermier Eloy Brichard, Paris, 1 October 1756 - 1 October 1759.
    Discharge mark: A shell, for the fermier Eloy Brichard and Etienne Somfoye, Paris, October 13 1756 - 21 November 1762.
  • G23
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This oval gold snuffbox is enamelled en plein (enamel applied directly onto the surface of the box) in opaque colours with genre scenes of urban life and trade. Each scene is bordered by chased scrolls and flowers in blue with foliage in green translucent enamel.
    The unknown enameller has used a wide variety of sources for the scenes that decorate this box. The scenes are after eight different engravings of subjects by five artists that would have been well-known to an 18th-century French patron. On the top is La Place Maubert, engraved by Jacques Aliamet (1726-1788) after Étienne Jeaurat (1699-1789); on the back La Ravaudeuse (the stocking mender) and the front La Charbonniere (the charcoal seller) engraved by Ravenet the Elder (1706-1774) after Charles-Nicolas Cochin (1715-1790); and the ends are from two series of Les Cris de Paris, with Au Vinaigre (the vinegar seller) engraved by Ravenet after François Boucher (1703-1770) and Gagne-Petit Auvernat (the knife grinder) by Edmé Bouchardon (1698 -1762).
    Hidden on the base is the most extraordinary scene of all, with a cobbler working at his trade while his wife calls to a passing lottery man. It shows the inventiveness of the anonymous enameller because the scene is a composite of three different engraved sources, after two artists, from two countries, over two centuries: the cobbler is from Le Sifleur de Linôte engraved by J.-P. Le Bas (1707-1783) after the Flemish 17th-century painter David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690), his wife is from Pommes cuites au four (the hot potato seller) and the lottery man from La liste des gagnans de la lotterie (the caller of the lottery results), both after Bouchardon’s Les cris de Paris.

    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. Although they were 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.