• Snuffbox
  • Louis Roucel (+1787) , Goldsmith
  • After Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725 - 1805), (miniatures)
  • Paris, France
  • Date: 1766 - 1767
  • Medium: Gold and enamel, engraved and chased
  • Object size: 3.9 x 7.9 x 5.7 cm
  • Weight: 191.6 g
  • Inv: G44
  • Location: Boudoir Cabinet
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Further Reading
  • The six larger enamelled subjects on this box are all taken from engravings after paintings by Jean-Baptiste Greuze. On the cover is 'L’accordée du Village' after an engraving by J-J. Flipart. The original painting, now in the Louvre, was shown at the Salon of 1761 and was in the collection of the marquis de Marigny, Madame de Pompadour's brother, before being bought at his sale in 1782 by Louis XVI. On the base is 'La trompette' after an engraving by L. Cars. Greuze’s original was exhibited at the Salon of 1759, when it was in the collection of Jean de Julienne, and is now in the Royal Collection. On the front wall is 'La bonne Education' after an engraving by P-C. Ingouf, and on the back is 'La maman' after the engraving by J-F. Beauvarlet. The right hand side shows 'La curieuse' after the engraving by J-F. Beauvarlet, and on the left hand side is 'La belle blanchisseuse', painted in 1761, formerly in the collection of the comtesse de la Ferronaye, and now in the J. Paul Getty Museum, after an engraving by J-C. Danze.

    The enamels on this box are of the highest quality and it is therefore exceptionally frustrating not to be able to give the artist responsible a name, nor even to hazard a guess at a name.

    Greuze’s contemporary moral scenes enjoyed an enormous vogue in the 1760s. Unlike earlier rococo boxes where the painted scenes and goldsmith’s work provide a riot of decoration, this box shows the new austerity of Neoclassicism more in keeping with Greuze’s subject matter. Here the enamels fill the flat areas and are simply edged with gold rather like being miniature paintings in their gilded frames.

    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 currently 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.