Description Originating in the Americas, the practice of “taking snuff,” or inhaling pulverized tobacco through the nose, became a common European custom by the 17th century. Consumers of all social levels and of both sexes would carry small, airtight boxes filled with the powdered tobacco, taking a pinch whenever they needed. Over time, however, society’s elites began to purchase and commission increasingly extravagant and precious boxes. Kings and Queens would often present snuffboxes to ambassadors as diplomatic gifts and to courtiers as payment for services. Made of a variety of precious materials, including gold, enamel, semiprecious stones, lacquer, and tortoiseshell, snuffboxes were coveted and enthusiastically collected. Displaying one’s collection of prized snuffboxes or stylishly retrieving an elegant box from one’s pocket were important social rituals; these objects revealed a person’s tastes, interests, and erudition. Jean-George Rémond, a jeweler born in Hanau, oversaw the production of this snuffbox. Rémond moved to Geneva in 1783 and formed one of the most well-known, respected jewelry companies in Switzerland, Georges Rémond & Cie. With nearly 100 employees, Georges Rémond & Cie exhibited and sold wares in France, England, Germany, Russia, Turkey, India, and China. Their colorful snuffboxes framed in pearls were amongst the company’s most popular creations.
- European Snuffboxes. Headley-Whitney Museum, Lexington. 1980.
Provenance Robert Hoe; Robert Hoe Sale, American Art Association, New York, February 15, 1911, no. 2242. Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; by bequest, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, 1931.
Inscriptions [Restricted Warranty Mark] Struck thrice on right bezel, eagle heads facing left, Paris, 1 January 1847 onwards; [Mark] Exterior right bezel, illegible; [Mark] Interior Lid and interior base, indicating the work of Jean-Georges Rémond: crowned initials GR above the letter C.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters
Download Image Add to Collection Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Creative Commons License