• Centuries of Style: Silver, Eu auction at Christies

    Sale 7800

    Centuries of Style: Silver, European Ceramics, Portrait Miniatures and Gold Boxes

    17 November 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 192

    A MEISSEN GOLD-MOUNTED MASONIC SNUFF-BOX

    CIRCA 1745, LATER STRUCK WITH A FRENCH POST-1893 IMPORT MARK FOR GOLD

    Price Realised  

    A MEISSEN GOLD-MOUNTED MASONIC SNUFF-BOX
    CIRCA 1745, LATER STRUCK WITH A FRENCH POST-1893 IMPORT MARK FOR GOLD
    Shaped box formed as a pug, recumbent on a rectangular moulded base, the dog with brown and black markings, wearing a pink and gilt collar, its eyes inset with rose-cut diamonds, the cover and base moulded in low relief and painted with flowers, leaves and berries, the interior of the cover painted with a Watteau-esque scene, the shaped interior of the base gilt
    2 5/8 in. (67 mm.) wide


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    The Rococo fashion for pug dog-shaped snuff-boxes can be seen in both gold-mounted hardstone boxes manufactured by an unknown Dresden workshop and in works by the Meissen and Ludwigsburg porcelain factories circa 1750. The pug became particularly popular following the formation of quasi-Masonic lodges in response to the Papal bull issued by Clement XII in 1738, forbidding Roman Catholics from belonging to Masonic orders. The pug dog was associated with the German pseudo-Masonic Order of the Pug or Mops-Order. Members of the Mops-Orden were pledged to secrecy and unlike Freemasons, admitted women to their meetings. A snuff-box formed as a pug was essential to the initiation ritual detailed by the author of L'Ordre des Francs-Maçons trahi, et le secret des Mopses révelé, Amsterdam, 1763. As an element of the order's rituals and a symbol of loyalty, the display of a box like the present example would thus have acted as an aesthetic statement of personal ideology (A. Somers Cocks and C. Truman, The Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Renaissance jewels, gold boxes and objets de vertu, London, 1984, p. 270, no. 92).
    A similarly formed snuff-box of 1745-1750, with a pug recumbent on a square base, modelled by Johann Joachim Kändler in 1741, is included in B. Beaucamp-Markowsky's Collection of 18th Century Porcelain Boxes, Sammlung von Porzellandosen des 18. Jahrhunderts, Amsterdam, 1988, pp. 102-103, no. 51. The box is believed to relate to two pug-shaped tabatière models made by J. J. Kändler in June and August 1741 for Count von Brühl, which are distinct from snuff-boxes made with only a small pug dog on top of the lid by Kändler for Brühl in October 1741 and January 1742. Another Meissen snuff-box modelled as a pug recumbent on an oval cushion with views of a castle painted on the interior, of 1755, is included in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (A. Somers Cocks and C. Truman, loc. cit.). Two further examples of identically formed snuff-boxes with the addition of a child and putto and pugs painted on the bases were in the James A. de Rothschild collection at Waddesdon Manor. The use of diamonds for the eyes of the present snuff-box is more characteristic of the related hardstone snuff-boxes, attributed to Dresden manufacture, circa 1750. An amethystine quartz example of these pug-shaped hardstone boxes with diamond-set eyes is illustrated in S. Grandjean, et al., The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, Gold Boxes and Miniatures of the Eighteenth Century, London, 1975, p. 38, no. 10. Another Dresden moss agate box of circa 1740-1750, shaped as a pug with ruby-set eyes, was included in the Collection Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Bergé, sold Christie's, Paris, 24 February 2009, lot 104.

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