• Snuffbox
  • Jean Moynat (active between: 1745-1761) , Goldsmith
  • After Sébastien Le Clerc (1637 - 1714)
  • Paris, France
  • Date: 1752 - 1754
  • Medium: Gold with diamonds in silver settings.
  • Object size: 3.5 x 7 x 5 cm
  • Weight: 172.5 g
  • Inv: G16
  • Location: Boudoir Cabinet
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Further Reading
  • The scene on the cover shows Apollo as a shepherd playing his pipe while guarding the herds of Admetus, after an engraving by Sébastien Le Clerc (1637–1714). The same subject is depicted by Claude Lorrain (1604–1682) in his painting 'Landscape with Apollo and Mercury' in the Wallace Collection (P114).

    The diamonds which embellish this box seem to fall into two different periods, both of which perhaps date from after the manufacture of the box itself. They may have been set in Germany or possibly Poland; the first additions appear to be the diamonds on the cover, probably from the 1770s, and the second alteration is the addition of the diamond-encrusted thumbpiece, probably from the beginning of the nineteenth century.

    Those diamonds used on the cover to enhance the architectural setting have two comparison boxes, one in the Rosalind and Arthur Gilbert Collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum, which has the makers letter PAG and may have been used by Pierre Aldebert Griot in Berlin dating to 1768. The other is also in the Victoria & Albert’s Collection, also thought to be probably from 1770 Berlin.

    The thumbpiece on this box is made of flowers and leaves, this may have been added around 1800, and set in possibly Germany or Poland. There is a nineteenth-century Cracow mark that shows the box was in the city in 1806–7, and a French import mark shows it had been outside France until at least after 1838 and before 1864 at the latest.

    Snuffboxes played an important role in fashion and self-promotion, in diplomacy and, in the nineteenth century, in collecting. Often they were used as a currency 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.