Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Snuffbox

Maker:
Jean Ducrollay (French, born 1709, master 1734, recorded 1760)
Date:
1757–58
Culture:
French, Paris
Medium:
Gold, enamel
Dimensions:
1 5/8 x 3 3/16 x 2 3/8 in. (4.1 x 8.1 x 6cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Gold and Platinum
Credit Line:
Gift of James Donahue, 1954
Accession Number:
54.38
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 530
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: Engraved on front rim of box: -CONSTANT-A-PARIS

Marking: [1] crowned fleur-de-lis, two grains de remède, J D, device a heart (maker's mark); [2] harrow (Paris charge mark for gold [and small silver], 1756-62); [3] crowned italic R (Paris warden's mark for gold, 1757-58); [4] a shell (Paris discharge mark for gold and small silver work, 1756-62); [5] 904 (unidentified).

Location of marks:
[1] inside on wall and base of box
[2], [3] inside cover, wall and base of box
[4], [5] on insetting rim of box
Meyer Sassoon (by 1938) ; [ A La Vieille Russie ] ; James Donahue (until 1954; to MMA)
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