Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Snuffbox

Maker:
Jean-Joseph Barrière (apprenticed 1750, master 1763, active 1793)
Date:
1782
Culture:
French, Paris
Medium:
Gold, enamel, diamonds, glass
Dimensions:
3 3/8 x 2 3/8 in. (8.6 x 6cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Gold and Platinum
Credit Line:
Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917
Accession Number:
17.190.1160
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 530
The diamond-decorated Cyrillic monogram E/II [Ekaterina] is that of Catherine. According to tradition the empress gave the golden box to Signor Stafano Rivarola, ambassador of the independent Republic of Genoa to the imperial court of Saint Petersburg in 1785.

Catherine's reign was known in Russia as the "Age of Diamonds." The precious stones were not only employed in jewelry and the decorative arts but were used as gambling tokens and even carried around like coins.
Inscription: A paper inside of box when it was acquired reads: La presente Tabacchiere fu regalata dall' Imperatrice di Russia Caterina 2da al Mse Stefano Rivarola Ambasciatore della Serenissima Repubblica di Genova presso quella Corte nel 1785 ("This snuff box was bestowed by the Empress of Russia Catherine II to the Mse. Stafano Rivarola, Ambassador of the most serene Republic of Genoa accredited to that court in 1785").

Marking: [1] crowned fleur-de-lis, two grains de remède, J J B (maker's mark); [2] interlaced foliate L's (Paris charge mark for gold and small silver, 1780–82); [3] crowned italic t (Paris warden's mark for gold, 1782–83); [4] plover's head (Paris discharge mark for small gold and silver, 1782–89).

Location of marks:
[1]–[3] inside bottom, front wall and cover
[4] on insetting rim of cover

Monogram: E [Ekaterina] II
Catherine II of Russia ; Stefano Rivarola (by tradition) ; J. Pierpont Morgan (until 1917; to MMA)
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