Snuffbox in the form of an armadillo

Saint-Cloud factory French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 545

In the first half of the eighteenth century, Saint-Cloud produced a wide range of bagatelles, or trifles, in the form of soft-paste porcelain snuffboxes, pommels, cutlery, and cane handles. They were often decorated with exotic figures and landscapes inspired by Asian motifs. This unusual snuffbox depicts an armadillo. A mammal native to South America, armadillos featured in allegorical representations of America as early as the sixteenth century, (seen for example Adrien Collaert’s depiction of America riding a giant armadillo 59.654.10). More than the anatomical accuracy of a naturalist, this smiling creature reflects the imagination of the porcelain modeler and the consumer’s fascination for the exotic.

Snuffbox in the form of an armadillo, Saint-Cloud factory (French, mid-1690s–1766), Soft-paste porcelain with enamel decoration; silver mounts, French, Saint-Cloud

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