Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Snuffbox with six scenes of country pastimes

Maker:
Box by Pierre François Drais (French, 1726–ca. 1788)
Artist:
Miniatures by Louis Nicolas van Blarenberghe (French, Lille 1716–1794 Fontainebleau)
Artist:
and Henri Joseph van Blarenberghe (French, Lille 1750–1826 Lille)
Date:
1774–75
Culture:
French, Paris
Medium:
Gold, glass; miniatures: gouache on vellum
Dimensions:
Overall (confirmed): 1 3/8 x 3 3/8 x 2 1/2 in. (3.5 x 8.5 x 6.4 cm); Miniaitures: Top, oval, 2 1/8 x 3 in. (53 x 74 mm); bottom, oval, 2 1/8 x 3 in. (53 x 74 mm); front 3/4 x 1 7/8 in. (21 x 48 mm); back 3/4 x 1 7/8 in. (21 x 48 mm); left side 3/4 x 1 7/8 in. (21 x 48 mm); right side 3/4 x 1 7/8 in. (21 x 48 mm)
Classifications:
Metalwork-Gold and Platinum, Miniatures
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.1152
Not on view
There are six marks on the oval box, including the paris mark for 1774–75, and the mark of Pierre-François Drais, a master in 1763, working to 1788. The top shows a delicate fête champêtre, signed and dated (at the bottom) van Blarenberghe / 1744: attended by revelers, a peasant couple, a young man with a violin and a young woman gathering flowers in her overskirt, stand in a country landscape under overarching trees hung with garlands of flowers and caged birds. The composition is elegantly shaped to fit the field. The scenes around the sides of the box are An Archery Match, A Youth Spurting Water from a Fountain, A Round Dance, and Couples on a Seesaw.

This object has no recorded history prior to the death in 1914 of Pierpont Morgan, and since then, the vignette on the base has been described as a country fair near a château. It seems likely that the miniature represents The Fair at Bezons, which was painted by Pater and Lancret and had been the subject of the reception piece submitted in 1725 to the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture by François Octavien. In the foreground at the left, a happy crowd takes refreshment outside a victualler's tent. Behind this group, visitors arrive and depart in wagons, one horseback, and on foot along a diagonal path lined with booths, and still further back is a village with a church and several large buildings, and the wall and gate of an estate. At the right, a crier draws the interest of the passing crowd to an elaborate outdoor stage where Harlequin raises his bat and Pierrot engages the attentions of a lady.
Signature: Signed on miniature on cover: van/Blarenberghe 1774

Marking: [1] crowned fleur-de-lis, 2 grains de remède, PD, device a heart (maker's mark for Pierre François Drais);
[2] rosette of fleurons (Paris charge mark for gold and small silver 1768–74);
[3] PARIS in cipher (Paris charge mark for gold and small silver, 1774–80);
[4] crowned italic L (Paris warden's mark for gold, 1774–75);
[5] monkey's head (Paris discharge mark for gold and small silver, 1774–80);
[6] clasped hands (Paris countermark, 1780–82);

Location of marks:
[1], [3], [4]: inside bottom, inside cover, inside box rim near hinge
[2]: inside box rim near hinge
[5], [6]: on bezel
J. Pierpont Morgan , London and New York (until 1917; to MMA)
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