Ducrollay was among the first of the Parisian goldsmiths to make use of Japanese lacquer, which he bought from the marchands-merciers or retailers of luxury goods. The trade in Oriental lacquer was in the hands of these middlemen of taste; prevented by guild regulations from manufacturing works of art themselves, they successfully marketed some of their goods by promoting, and probably inventing, the tabatière à cage, which, like this example, consisted of a gold frame into which panels of lacquer or other exotic material could be inserted. On this box lacquer panels with figures must have been cut from small panels of boxes or chests. Ducrollay probably obtained them from the marchand-bijoutier Lazare Duvaux from whom he purchased lacquer on several occasions between 1751 and 1755.
Marking:  crowned fleur-de-lis, two grains de remède, J D, device a heart (maker's mark);  ox head (Paris charge mark for gold, 1750–56);  crowned italic N (warden's mark, 1753–54);  hen's head (Paris discharge mark for gold and small silver, 1750–56).
Artist: Jean Ducrollay (French, born 1709, master 1734, recorded 1760)Date: 1750–56, base and lid later replacementsMedium: Gold, enamel, rock crystal (later replacement)Accession: 17.190.1224On view in:Not on view