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    Sale 7550

    Important Portrait Miniatures and Gold Boxes

    9 December 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 219

    A VERY FINE ENGLISH OR GERMAN JEWELLED GOLD SNUFF-BOX

    PROBABLY LONDON OR BERLIN, CIRCA 1745

    Price Realised  

    A VERY FINE ENGLISH OR GERMAN JEWELLED GOLD SNUFF-BOX
    PROBABLY LONDON OR BERLIN, CIRCA 1745
    cartouche-shaped box, the cover boldly chased with a bouquet of floral sprays encrusted with rose-cut diamonds, calibrated and circular-cut rubies on sablé ground, framed with curving lapis lazuli plaques mounted in a burnished gold cagework chased and pierced with rocailles, floral swags and strapwork, the base chased with polished gold festoons of drapery and rocailles on a guilloché ground, the lobed balaster sides and bombé body similarly chased, flaring wavy scrolled thumbpiece
    2 11/16 in. (68 mm.) wide


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    The exemption from hallmarking of gold boxes whose 'Manufacture of Gold or Silver so richly engraved, carved, or chased, or set with jewels or other Stones, as not to admit of an Assay to be taken of, or a Mark to be Struck theron, without damaging, prejudicing, or defacing the same, or' by the Act for the better preventing Frauds and abuses in gold and silver wares, 1738-39, complicates the firm attribution of jewelled mid-eighteenth century snuff-boxes to English or German sources (K. Snowman, Eighteenth Century Gold Boxes of Europe, London, 1990, p. 259). Both German and English designs of the period reflect the continued influence of earlier French designs. The Rococo chasing on the present snuff-box bears close resemblance to Meissonnier's engravings for snuff-boxes of circa 1730, reproduced in Snowman, op. cit., p. 44, pl. 45-48 and p. 45, pl. 49, suggesting it may have been the work of a French Huguenot workshop. Meissonnier's designs were fashionable in England and Germany and the present lot can be compared in design and 'accent' to works from both countries.
    For a similar George II cartouche-shaped box set with agate and diamonds, London, circa 1750, see Snowman, op. cit., pl. 542. Another diamond-set cartouche-shaped snuff-box with strongly chased rocaille of English origin, circa 1750, sold Sotheby's, Geneva, 15 May 1990, lot 49. For a cartouche-shaped gold box with bombé sides similarly chased with shell rocaille motifs, with later marks, London, circa 1740-50, in the James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor (see S. Grandjean et al., Gold Boxes and Miniatures of the Eighteenth Century, London, 1975, p. 25, no. 1). A cartouche-shaped snuff-box with a comparably chased diamond and ruby-set lid from Berlin, circa 1775, is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (H. and S. Berry-Hill, Antique Gold Boxes: Their Lore and Their Lure, London, 1960, p. 140, Illustr. 124). A cartouche-shaped George II gold patch-box, of circa 1740, chased with similar rocaille scrolls sold Christie's, London, 28 November 2006, lot 8. Another example of a German Rococo snuff-box from Berlin, circa 1750, with a diamond and ruby-set lid sold Christie's, Geneva, 20 November 1974, lot 265.

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