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Snuffbox

Maker:
Noël Hardivillers (French, master 1729, died 1779)
Artist:
Scenes after paintings by François Boucher (French, Paris 1703–1770 Paris)
Date:
1753–54
Culture:
French, Paris
Medium:
Gold, enamel
Dimensions:
1 1/2 × 3 1/16 × 2 5/16 in. (3.8 × 7.8 × 5.9 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Gold and Platinum
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1976
Accession Number:
1976.155.5
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 616
This box is a brilliant example of enamel decoration on gold. The oval scenes on the lid, sides, and base are created by enameling directly on the flat gold surface, the process known as en plein. In contrast, much of the translucent green enamel that surrounds the scenes is applied to small areas of the gold that have been engraved or carved away, the technique referred to as basse taille. The quality of both types of enameling is extremely high and is likely the work of a specialist. Frequently the goldsmith who produced a box turned to another artisan when a highly specialized type of decoration, such as enameling or the incorporation of lacquer, was required.

The scenes decorating the lid and the underside of this box are based on works by the French painter François Boucher (1703–1770). The enameler has copied Boucher’s painting Pensent-Ils au Raisin? (Nationalmuseum, Stockholm) for the scene on the lid, and La Poésie Pastorale (known only through etchings) for the one on the underside. Prints after these and other paintings by Boucher were widely disseminated and served repeatedly as compositional models for enamelers and porcelain painters. Scenes after Boucher were among the most popular types of decoration on French decorative arts of all media in the mid-eighteenth century.
Marking: Struck inside bottom, right wall, and cover: [1] crowned fleur-de-lis, two grains de remède, NH, device a cock (maker's mark for Noel Hardivillers); [2] ox head (Paris charge mark for gold and small silver, 1750–56); [3] crowned italic N (Paris warden's mark for gold, 1753–54); Struck on bezel on left end: [4] hen's head (Paris discharge mark for gold and small silver, 1750–56).
Baron Alfred de Rothschild , London ; Mrs. Meyer Sassoon , London (by 1938) ; D. Bingham , New York ; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman , New York (until 1976; to MMA)
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