The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Henri Bodson (active between: 1763-1789) , Goldsmith
  • Louis-Nicolas van Blarenberghe (1716 - 1794), (panel on lid)
  • Paris, France
  • 1766 - 1767
  • Gold and vellum and gouache, chased and painted
  • Object size: 3.7 x 8 x 5.8 cm
    Weight: 141.9 g
    Image size: 4.4 x 6.4 cm, miniature on lid
    Image size: 1.6 x 3.2 cm, miniature on front
    Image size: 4.2 x 6.2 cm, miniature on base
    Image size: 1.8 x 3.2 cm, miniature on back
    Image size: 1.6 x 3 cm, miniatures on sides
  • Maker's mark: Probably 'H' and 'B' between a crown or star
    Charge mark: A laurel branch, for Jean-Jaques Prévost (1762-68)
    Discharge mark: A hound's head, for Jean-Jaques Prévost (1762-68)
    Signature: 'v. Blarenberghe 1767'
    Date mark: 'C' for 1766-7
    Date mark: 'C' crowned, for 1766-7
    Mark: A sheep's head
    Date mark: 'B', for 1765-6
  • G42
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This oval gold snuffbox has been mounted with six miniatures painted in gouache on vellum under glass, mounted ‘à cage’ (method of placing plaques into a gold frame to create the box).
    The miniatures depict domestic scenes but the ultimate source for them has not been identified. They may derive from works by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, or Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié or Noel Hallé, all of whom were interested in painting moral scenes that centred on the domestic world. On the cover of this box, van Blarenberghe has painted a family collecting their infant from a wetnurse. The habit of giving babies to wetnurses to suckle was already drawing criticism when this miniature was painted, but it remained common for many years afterwards.
    The treatment of the goldsmith’s work is unusual for a box mounted with miniatures by van Blarenberghe, and the areas between the paintings have been filled with scrolling foliage and rosettes of gold. This adds to the richness and lavishness of the box, and makes for an entirely harmonious design.
    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.