Spice box with grater

Nicolas II Boullet French

Not on view

The hinged compartments of this box contained dry spices for the table such as cloves, pepper, mustard, and salt. At the center is a cylindrical grater that could hold a nutmeg to be freshly ground over an otherwise bland meal. Such boxes, with their bold moldings and faceted profiles, might have been supplied as part of a large table centerpiece, or surtout. The other components of a surtout include a large central vessel with branches for candles, matching cruets for oil and vinegar, and four spice boxes. The perfectly symmetrical table arrangement emphasized the geometric form of the boxes.

Daughter of one of the founders of the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company, Catherine D. Wentworth (1865–1948) was an art student and painter who lived in France for thirty years. She became one of the most important American collectors of eighteenth-century French silver and on her death in 1948 bequeathed part of her significant collection of silver, gold boxes, French furniture, and textiles to the Metropolitan Museum. The collection is particularly strong in domestic silver as illustrated by this spice box.

Spice box with grater, Nicolas II Boullet (French, master 1717, died 1758), Silver, French, Toulon (Aix Mint)

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