The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Louis Roucel (+1787) , Goldsmith
  • Paris, France
  • 1765 - 1766
  • Gold and japanese lacquer, chased and engraved
  • Object size: 3.5 x 7 x 5.4 cm
    Weight: 116 g
  • Maker's mark: 'L.R.' and a crown for Louis Roucel.
    Warden's mark: 'B', for 1765-6
    Warden's mark: 'A', for 1764-5
    Charge mark: For fermier Jean-Jacques Prévost (1762-68)
    Discharge mark: A head of a dogfor Jean-Jacques Prevost (1762-68)
    Warranty mark: A sheep's head, for 1819 to 1838
    Mark: An anvil mark
    Inscription: 'ROUCEL Orfe du Roi A PARIS' Engraved
  • G40
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This octagonal “carré a pans” (a box with canted corners) gold box has been mounted with ten panels of Japanese lacquer. The panels depict two deer by a river, a pavillion, and chrysanthemum flowers and other foliage along the walls. The lacquer comprises several types; “hiramaki-e” (gold powder on a flat surface); “takamaki-e” (gold powder on a raised surface) and “kirigane” (gold foil). The cagework is decorated with rouletted lines with a rose at each junction and the cover is bordered by a single strand of rope work. The interior of the box is gold.

    Roucel was a popular goldsmith for nineteenth century collectors of snuffboxes, as before French hallmarks were decoded the only way to know a maker was if their name was inscribed into the bezel. This enables this box to be traced to a sale at Christie's in 1819 of Queen Charlotte's collection of snuffboxes.

    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 currently 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.