The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Jean Ducrollay (c. 1710 - 1787) , Goldsmith
  • After François Boucher (1703 - 1770), scenes
  • Paris, France
  • 1759 - 1760 (snuff box)
    c. 1757-1759 (plaques)
  • Gold and Sèvres porcelain.
  • Object size: 4.5 x 8.5 x 6.3 cm
    Weight: 242 g
  • Maker's mark: Includes 'JD' and a heart. Mark of Jean Ducrollay, goldsmith registered in Paris, 26 July 1734 until after 12 December 1761, and later recorded as a negociant until 1771.
    Warden's mark: 't' of the wardens Maison Commune mark for gold, Paris, 13 July 1759 - 11 July 1760.
    Charge mark: A harrow, the charge mark for gold for the fermiers Eloy Brichard and Etienne Somfoye, Paris, 1 October 1756 - 1 October 1762.
    Discharge mark: A shell, the decharge mark for gold for the fermiers Eloy Brichard and Etienne Somfoye, Paris, 1 October 1756 - 1 October 1762.
    Inscription: Engraved 'No. 4'
    Label: 'Tabatière Sèvres / No.1 fond / blue / Turquoise / Medaillon Boucher' Written on a piece of paper
  • G31
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • This is a rare example of Sèvres porcelain plaques remaining in their original box and the Greek-key pattern border is an early example of Ducrollay’s Neoclassicism. The plaques, with a turquoise-blue (bleu céleste) ground and two cherub scenes after François Boucher (1703-1770), were probably bought by the dealer Madame Duvaux for 360 livres in 1759. She would have commissioned Ducrollay to mount them in gold, and the final price for the box was probably about 1,344 livres.
    The design for the gold borders of the box is in the Ducrollay, Drais and Ouizille design book in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
    The first owner of the box was the duchesse de Castropignano, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Spain, to whom it was given by Louis XV.
    The Sèvres panels have gilding with an irregular diaper (diamond) pattern surrounding six reserves each one representing Music, Poetry, Theatre and Love. The interior of the box is gold.
    The Sèvres factory made porcelain plaques that could be bought ready to be mounted into furniture or snuffboxes. “Plaques de tabatière” [Snuffbox plaques] first appear in the factory records in February 1754, and continued to be produced in large numbers until the late 1750’s. Generally the cost for six plaques was 360 livres, though they could range between 288 livres and 600 livres. Only three snuffboxes with blue celeste ground were sold at Sèvres. It is known that Mme Duvaux, wife of the dealer Lazare Duvaux bought two.

    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.