The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Possibly Pierre-François Drais , Goldsmith
  • After François Boucher (1703 - 1770), (miniatures)
  • Paris, France
  • 1763-70
  • Gold and enamel, chased
  • Object size: 3.5 x 7.5 x 5.4 cm
    Weight: 193 g
  • Maker's mark: Illegible
    Maker's mark: 'P D'
    Charge mark: Illegible
    Discharge mark: A head of dog, for fermier Jean-Jaques Prévost (1762-68)
    Date mark: 'F' for 1769-70
    Charge mark: Possibly for fermier Julian Alaterre (1768-75)
    Charge mark: A laurel, for fermier Jean-Jaques Prévost (1762-68)
    Date mark: Illegible
    Mark: A hunting horn, for fermier Julian Alaterre (1768-75) counter mark
  • G47
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Although originally made between 1762 and 1768, it would appear that the box was returned to its maker, P-F Drais, or another equally competent workshop, in 1769-79 when the panels of translucent blue enamel, with oval medallions, replaced some earlier form of decoration. If it were not for the hallmarks in the cover and the base, which confirm the date of this alteration, it would not have been unreasonable to assume that the added plaques were put in later, perhaps in the early nineteenth century.
    The putti that decorate the pink plaques have been inspired by engravings after Boucher. The putto on the base is from an engraving by E. Fessard of “L'Amour vendangeur”. Those on the left and front are both from engravings by P. Aveline after Boucher; that on the left from “Trois amours à coté d'un cartouche” and that on the front is from “Deux enfants dormant avec des moutons”.
    This varicoloured gold snuffbox has been enamelled with translucent blue enamel. Each side has been set with a plaque painted in pink (Camaïeu rose) depicting putti, framed in gold decorated with chased acanthus leaves. All are mounted in a cagework of gold, chased with ivy leaves and alternating husks and flutes in yellow gold. The walls are divided by four pilasters at the corners, hung with swags, with a guilloche border around the rim of the base. The interior of the box is gold.

    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.