Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Snuffbox

Date:
1744–45
Culture:
French, Paris
Medium:
Gold, mother-of-pearl
Dimensions:
1 3/8 × 2 15/16 × 2 1/4 in. (3.5 × 7.5 × 5.7 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Gold and Platinum
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1976
Accession Number:
1976.155.12
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 545
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: Written in black ink inside cover, over effaced number (?): 9715

Marking: [1] crowned fleur-de-lis, two grains de remède, first letter C, the rest indecipherable (maker's mark); [2] foot (Paris charge mark for gold, 1738-44); [3] crowned italic C (Paris warden's mark, 1744-45); [4] fox's head (Paris discharge mark for gold, 1738-44); [5] fly (Paris countermark, small gold and silver, 1744-50)

Location of marks:
[1]: inside bottom, cover and rim on right end
[2], [3]: inside rim on right end
[4]: outside cover rim on left end
[5]: outside cover rim on left and right ends
Baron Max von Goldschmidt-Rothschild , Frankfurt ; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman , New York (until 1976; to MMA)
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