Art/ Collection/ Art Object


Adrien Jean Maximilien Vachette (French, Cauffry 1753–1839 Paris)
Miniature on cover after a painting by Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, Grasse 1732–1806 Paris)
Miniature inside base panel after a painting by François Boucher (French, Paris 1703–1770 Paris)
French, Paris
Gold, enamel
Overall: 1 1/4 × 3 1/8 × 2 1/16 in. (3.2 × 7.9 × 5.2 cm)
Metalwork-Gold and Platinum, Miniatures
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
Not on view
In eighteenth-century Europe, Paris led the production of high-quality luxury goods. Parisian goldsmiths made a wide range of small, personal articles such as snuffboxes; étuis to hold sealing wax, tweezers, or utensils for sewing; souvenirs, which contained thin ivory tablets for note taking; and shuttles for knotting lace. Gold snuffboxes and boxes decorated with portrait miniatures were prized and frequently given as royal gifts, often to ambassadors or members of the court in lieu of cash payments for their services. Coveted and admired, these boxes were produced from a variety of materials. The best were skillfully made of gold and embellished with diamonds, enameled decoration, lacquer, and other luxurious materials. By the middle of the century, the taking of snuff had become an entrenched social ritual, and the snuffbox, too, had become an important social prop. Snuffboxes were considered highly fashionable accessories, with some merchants advertising new boxes with each change of season. The popularity of snuffboxes extended to all levels of society, and for those who could not afford gold, boxes were produced in less expensive materials such as silver, tortoiseshell, porcelain, or domestically produced lacquer.
Inscription: On miniature: SERMENT / D'AIMER / TOUTE / LA VIE

Marking: [1] crowned fleur-de-lis, 2 grains de reméde, AV, device a cock (maker's pre-Revolution mark)
[2] illegible but probably an A in a circle (Paris charge mark for gold and silver, 1789–92)
[3] crowned P and 89 (Paris warden's mark for gold, 1789–90)
[4] an eye (Paris discharge mark for very small work, 1789–92)
[5] A in a slanting rectangle (Vienna tax mark, 1806/7)
[6] eagle's head in a single outline (Paris restricted warranty mark for gold, 1838–47)

Location of marks
[1], [3] inside front wall of box, inside flange
[2] inside flange
[4]–[6] on outside of flange, [6] struck twice
J. Pierpont Morgan (until 1917; to MMA)
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Cameo of the Virgin and Child

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