The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany, Berlin
  • c. 1750
  • Vari-coloured gold, ivory and lapis-lazuli
  • Object size: 4.2 x 8.3 x 6.2 cm
    Weight: 199.4 g
  • G76
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Frederick the Great of Prussia was a great lover of gold boxes and amassed an extraordinary personal collection but he was not the only patron of beautiful snuffboxes in Berlin and the city was an important centre for goldsmiths’ work, supplying the thriving nobility and wealthy bourgeoisie. The delicious chased work of this box – in yellow, green and white gold – on the reserves depicts pastoral landscapes with shepherds, sheep and dogs, framed by scrolls of ornament set with lapis lazuli panels. The background to the reserves is ivory, although originally this was stained green as can be seen from the bottom of the box. When the box was exhibited in 1872 at the Bethnal Green Museum in London the body of the box was described as being of ‘jade’, so it is clear that it would then have been much greener. The bleached colour today of the sides and lid must be the result of a hundred years of it being on display, before it was moved to the more light-protected cabinet where it is on view today.