Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Souvenir

Maker:
Possibly by Louis Cousin (apprenticed 1751, master 1766, active 1781)
Date:
1775–81
Culture:
French, Paris
Medium:
Gold, ivory, glass, metal foil; ivory
Dimensions:
3 1/4 × 2 1/16 in. (8.3 × 5.2 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Gold and Platinum
Credit Line:
Bequest of Catherine D. Wentworth, 1948
Accession Number:
48.187.488a–c
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: At top, in grisaille medallions: (on front) SOUVENIR, (on back) D'AMITIÉ

Marking: [1] crowned fleur-de-lis, 2 grains de remède, LC, device a royal staff (?) (maker's mark);
[2] PARIS in cipher (Paris charge mark for gold and small silver, 1774–80);
[3] monkey's head (Paris discharge mark for gold and small silver, 1774–80)

Location of marks:
[1]–[3] struck on insetting rim of carnet de bal
Catherine D. Wentworth (until 1948; bequeathed to MMA)
Related Objects

Souvenir

Artist: Probably by Louis Cousin (apprenticed 1751, master 1766, active 1781) Date: 1774–75 Medium: Gold, mother-of-pearl, malachite, diamonds; ivory Accession: 17.190.1319a–c On view in:Not on view

Snuffbox

Artist: Louis-Philippe Demay (French, master 1758, died 1772) Date: 1766–67 Medium: Gold, enamel Accession: 17.190.1200 On view in:Gallery 530

Snuffbox

Artist: Daniel Govaers (or Gouers) (French, master 1717, active 1736) Date: 1734–35 Medium: Gold, diamonds Accession: 48.187.419 On view in:Gallery 530

Snuffbox

Artist: Mathieu Coiny fils (born 1723, master 1755, recorded 1788) Date: 1759–60 Medium: Gold, enamel, jewels Accession: 17.190.1191 On view in:Gallery 530