The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Snuff-box
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy, Naples
  • c. 1740
  • Turtleshell and gold piqué
  • Object size: 4.8 x 7.3 cm
    Weight: 74.9 g
  • Mark: Export mark for post 1838 in the form of a wild boars head the punch has jumped slightly making the mark difficult to read.
    Inscription: 'No 15 tabatiere Ecaille piqué or' and the entry for No. 1885 in the Catalogue of the Bethnal Green Exhibition
  • G1
  • Boudoir Cabinet
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This box has traditionally been ascribed to France, but more recent research has indicated that most boxes of this type were produced in Naples, which was something of a centre for pique work. The architect Robert Adam bought three ‘very handsome snuff-boxes of yellow and black tortoiseshell studded with gold’ while in Naples in 1755. In 1771 Lady Anne Miller wrote ‘this city [Naples] is famous for a manufacture in tortoiseshell which they inlay curiously with gold, and are very ingenious at representing any object you choose’.
    The pattern of the decoration derives from silks, probably woven in Genoa, dated to around 1730-50. A similar scheme was also used in an English wallpaper that originally hung in the Queen’s Drawing Room at Hampton Court Palace in about 1735.
    Boxes in turtleshell enjoyed much popularity in France during the period when the use of gold was controlled by sumptuary laws during the first two decades of the eighteenth century but the fashion for piqué continued until much later in Naples.