• 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 280

    AN IMPORTANT SAXON GOLD-MOUNTED 'STEIN-CABINET' SNUFF-BOX

    BY JOHANN-CHRISTIAN NEUBER (1736-1808), DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775/1790, LATER STRUCK WITH TWO FRENCH IMPORT MARKS FOR GOLD 1864-1893

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    AN IMPORTANT SAXON GOLD-MOUNTED 'STEIN-CABINET' SNUFF-BOX
    BY JOHANN-CHRISTIAN NEUBER (1736-1808), DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775/1790, LATER STRUCK WITH TWO FRENCH IMPORT MARKS FOR GOLD 1864-1893
    Octagonal box inlaid with 58 numbered specimens of semi-translucent and opaque hardstones including a variety of dendritic and banded agates, carnelian, amethyst, porphyry, marble and smoky quartz mounted à jour within narrow peaked gold bands, the hinged lid consising of trapezoidal thin semi-translucent plaques within mounts numbered 2 to 17, radiating from an oval central panel of banded agate within reeded gold mount numbered 1, the base similarly designed with trapezoidal hardstone panels numbered 42 to 58 radiating from a central oval panel of agatized petrified wood, the sides inlaid with rectangular hardstone plaques numbered 18 to 41 within gold mounts, the borders of lid and base engraved with a bright-cut band
    3½ in. (99 mm.) wide


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    Johann Christian Neuber (1736-1808) and his father-in-law, Heinrich Taddel are credited with developing the technique of Zellenmosaik lapidary, in which hardstone plaques are suspended in a fine geometric cagework web of gold. This technique, which is similar to creating cloisonné enamel, is showcased by the juxtaposition of opaque and translucent panels in the present box.
    The octagonal shape of the snuff-box distinguishes it from the circular and oval boxes usually associated with this technique. Though rare, a similarly shaped snuff-box was sold Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 19 February 1975, lot 375. A related example can also be found in the collection of the Louvre, inventory no. TH 1446 (S. Grandjean, Catalogue des tabatières, boîtes et étuis des XVIIIe et XIXe siècles du musée du Louvre, Paris, 1981, p. 284, pl. 427). Another box of the same octagonal design with a cameo-set lid and deeper base, which is part of a Private Collection in Berlin, is recorded as signed 'Neuber A Dresde' (S. Bursche, Galanterien: Dosen, Etuis und Miniaturen aus Gold, Edelsteinen, Email und Porzellan. Eine Berliner Privatsammlung, Berlin, 1996, p. 86, no. 32).
    The spotted brown stone used for the central panel of the base on the present box can also be found as the central stone on the lid of an oval box by Neuber, sold Christie's, Geneva, 14 November 1995, lot 118. Usually this stone is described by Neuber in the booklets accompanying his boxes as 'Petrification de bois, couverte d'yeux, qui ressemblent à ceux de Sansonnet', thus comparing agatized petrified wood to the eyes of a starling.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    with Galerie Jacques Kugel, Paris, 1995.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A LADY