Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Étui for sealing wax

Joseph Étienne Blerzy (French, active 1750–1806)
French, Paris
Gold and enamel
Length: 4 5/8 in. (11.7 cm)
Metalwork-Gold and Platinum
Credit Line:
Bequest of Kate Read Blacque, in memory of her husband, Valentine Alexander Blacque, 1937
Accession Number:
38.50.48a, b
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: Stickers: [1] 101; [2] service de garantie/ à controler (in circle)

Marking: [1] crowned fleur-de-lis, 2 grains de remède, J E B, device a level (maker's mark);
[2] interlaced L's (Paris charge mark for gold and small silver 1782–89);
[3] crowned italic U (Paris warden's mark for gold, 1783–84);
[4] plover's head (Paris discharge mark for small gold and silver, 1782–89);
[5] a bottle (?) (Paris assay mark);
[6] eagle's head in single outline (Paris restricted warranty mark, 1838–47)

Location of marks:
[1] on shaft, inside cover
[2], [3] inside cover
[4], [5] on shaft
[6] twice on shaft
Kate Read Blacque (until 1937; bequeathed to MMA)
Related Objects

Box with portrait of a whippet

Artist: Probably by Joseph Étienne Blerzy (French, active 1750–1806) Date: late 18th century Medium: Gold, ivory, glass Accession: 48.187.444 On view in:Gallery 530

Snuffbox with An Allegory of Geography

Artist: Joseph Étienne Blerzy (French, active 1750–1806) Date: 1777–78 Medium: Gold, enamel, and pearls Accession: 1975.1.1543 On view in:Gallery 951

Snuffbox with a Scene of Venus and Cupid

Artist: Joseph Étienne Blerzy (French, active 1750–1806) Date: 1781–82 Medium: Gold and enamel Accession: 1975.1.1544 On view in:Gallery 951

Snuffbox with grisaille miniature of scene from Don Quixote

Artist: Joseph Étienne Blerzy (French, active 1750–1806) Date: 1774–75 Medium: Gold, enamel Accession: 17.190.1171 On view in:Not on view

Snuffbox with portrait of a woman

Artist: Joseph Étienne Blerzy (French, active 1750–1806) Date: 1773–74, miniature ca. 1778–80 Medium: Gold, enamel; ivory, glass Accession: 17.190.1138 On view in:Gallery 530