Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Snuffbox (?) (one of a pair)

French, Mennecy
Soft-paste porcelain
Height: 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of R. Thornton Wilson, in memory of Florence Ellsworth Wilson, 1950
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.
Marking: None
[ Georges de Batz , New York, until October 1949; sold to Wilson ] ; R. Thornton Wilson (1949–50; to MMA)
Related Objects

Monkey riding a dog

Date: ca. 1745–50 Medium: Soft-paste porcelain Accession: 1974.356.586 On view in:Not on view

Pair of dogs

Date: possibly 18th century Medium: Soft-paste porcelain Accession: 1974.356.589, .590 On view in:Not on view

Boy riding a dog

Date: ca. 1745–50 Medium: Soft-paste porcelain Accession: 1974.356.587 On view in:Not on view

Jar with cover

Date: ca. 1750–60 Medium: Soft-paste porcelain Accession: 55.216.6a, b On view in:Not on view


Date: ca. 1750–60 Medium: Soft-paste porcelain, gold, enamel Accession: 43.100.29 On view in:Not on view