The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Snuff box
  • Snuff box
  • Pierre Cerneau (active between: 1762-1783) , Goldsmith
  • After Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725 - 1805), (miniatures)
  • Paris, France
  • 1763 - 1764
  • Gold and enamel, painted, chiselled, chased and engraved
  • Object size: 3.5 x 7 x 5.1 cm
    Weight: 148.3 g
  • Maker's mark: semi-obscured with 'P' as first letter and a cockle shell for Pierre Cerneau.
    Maker's mark: Obscured with 'P' as first letter, and a cockle shell Parisian type
    Warden's mark: 'Z' of the Maison Commune 1763-4
    Charge mark: Two bay leaf branches, for sous-fermier Jean-Jacques Prévost (1762-68)
    Discharge mark: A head of a dog, for Jean-Jacques Prévost (1762-68)
    Inscription: 'Souvenir du Aout 1842' Engraved
    Label: Exhibition catalogue entry
  • G38
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The enamel decoration of this box is taken from engravings after two celebrated French artists: François Boucher (1703-1770) and Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805). The fact that works by these two artists are placed side-by-side is an interesting comment on the evolution of taste, and demonstrates the transitional style between Boucher’s Rococo and Greuze’s more moralizing Neoclassicism that superseded it. The style of the gold mounts, however, leaves no doubt as to the preference of this little-known goldsmith, Pierre Cerneau, with its Greek key border and a guilloche divided by paterae, and an outer border of green gold laurel swags tied with white gold ribbon. The four pilasters with scrolling capitals that divide the walls of the box underline the Antique theme of the decoration.
    The domestic scene on the lid is after "La Trompette" by Greuze and shows a woman feeding her baby in front of a fireplace. The original painting is in the Royal Collection. The engraving of the painting was first advertised in L’avant coureur, a Parisian newspaper, on 5 March 1764, almost exactly the same time as this box was begun. The scene on the front is “La Maman” and that on the back “La marchande de marrons” all after Greuze. The scene on the right hand side is after François Boucher's “La petite fermière” engraved by Duflos.
    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. Although they were used for snuff-taking, 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.