The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Casket
  • Attributed to Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germaine (1719 - 1791) , Bronze Founder
  • France
  • c. 1755 - c. 1760
  • Oak, turtleshell, première-partie Boulle marquetry of brass and turtleshell, gilt bronze, pink silk, crimson velvet and gold braid
  • Object size: 27.7 x 50.3 x 23.7 cm
  • Label: 'HENRY HATFIELD, / GENERAL / Fine Art Manufacturer / AND / Renovator of Old Work, / 86, CHARLOTTE STREET, / FITZROY SQUARE' (printed) 'F.F. July 1924' (handwritten over label)
    Inscription: 'S' Scratched
  • F401
  • Large Drawing Room
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • One of a pair of caskets (with F400) veneered with turtleshell and, on the lids, premiere-partie Boulle marquetry. All four sides have pierced gilt-bronze panels backed by pink silk, those on the front and back have gilt-bronze baskets of flowers in the centre. These and the other gilt-bronze mounts have been attributed to Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain (1719-1791, maitre 1748) on the basis of other firmly attributed or signed works by him. Coffers like these with mounts of the same models are more generally found as the boxes for musical movements underneath clocks supported by bronze animals, examples with rhinoceroses, elephants, wild boars and lions are known. However, with their domed lids these two caskets would appear to have been musical boxes.

    The marquetry lid displays the initials LPR in its centre, the L in copper the PR in brass. This allows us to identify the original owner as Louis-Rene-Edouard, prince de Rohan (1734-1803), as the use of a different-coloured metal for the L is paralleled by the different colour gilding of the L in the same initials on the Sevres porcelain service supplied to the prince in 1772. The prince de Rohan was ambassador to the Court of Vienna (1771-74), Grand Almoner of France (1774-86), Cardinal (1774) and Bishop of Strasbourg (1779-1801). Dismissed from the office of Grand Almoner after the affair of the diamond necklace (1785-86), he retained his bishopric. In 1791 he took refuge in Ettenheim, in the German part of his diocese, where he died.
    The inside of the casket is lined with crimson velvet, but this is probably a replacement put in during the restoration by Hatfield in c. 1900.