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.
- Objects of Vertu: Precious Works of the Eighteenth Century. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1984.
Provenance General Brayton Ives, New York; Sale, American Art Association, New York, April 8, 1915, no. 165; Harding, New York; Henry Walters, Baltimore, January 7, 1916, by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Mark of Goldsmith] On the interior of the lid, base, and left-side wall, indicating the work of Guillaume Loir: Crowned Fleur-de-lis, flanked by two grains de remède above initials G L with a crescent between the initials [Mark of Assayer] On the interior of the lid, base, and left-side wall, indicating Jean Berthe: head of a cow; [Mark of Warden] On the interior of the lid, base, and left-side wall, indicating the year 11 July 1753- 19 July 1754: “n” surmounted by an open crown; [Mark of Warranty or Décharge] Stamped on left rim, used for gold exported from Paris between 1733-1774: a small cow; [Mark of Restricted Warranty] for gold in Paris from 1 January 1847 onwards: two eagle heads.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters, 1916
Download Image Add to Collection Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Creative Commons License