A GERMAN VARI-COLOUR GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
A GERMAN VARI-COLOUR GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
1 More
A GERMAN VARI-COLOUR GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX

WORKSHOP OF FRIEDRICH LUDWIG HOFFMANN, PROBABLY BERLIN, CIRCA 1760/1765

Details
A GERMAN VARI-COLOUR GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
WORKSHOP OF FRIEDRICH LUDWIG HOFFMANN, PROBABLY BERLIN, CIRCA 1760/1765
oval box of cloudy quartz mounted à jour within chased vari-colour gold foliate mounts, the cover applied with four moths and a beetle sculpted out of labradorite, the legs, antennae and details of the insects engraved and blackened, with incorporated vari-colour gold thumbpiece chased with flowers and foliage
3 1/8 in. (81 mm.) wide
Provenance
A French aristocratic collection.

Brought to you by

Paul Gallois
Paul Gallois

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

If you wish to view the condition report of this lot, please sign in to your account.

Sign in
View condition report

Lot Essay

The application of hardstone insects on the present lot reflects the tradition of decorating Scythian warriors' breastplates with small talismanic creatures. It was believed that the more living souls depicted on an object, the more effectively it would bring its owner good fortune. A similarly decorated gold-mounted quartz snuff-box, signed 'F. L. Hoffmann', is in the Gilbert Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, inventory no. GILBERT.416-2008, Charles Truman, The Gilbert Collection of Gold Boxes, Los Angeles, 1991, p. 192, pl. 66. The Louvre's collection also includes a similarly encrusted oval cloudy quartz snuff-box, inventory no. OA 2145, see S. Grandjean, Catalogue des tabatières, boîtes et étuis des XVIIIe et XIXe siècles du musée du Louvre, Paris, 1981, p. 291, pl. 442. Another oval snuff-box of cloudy quartz, encrusted with fly and ladybird motifs is recorded in a Private Collection in Berlin, see S. Bursche, Galanterien: Dosen, Etuis und Miniaturen aus Gold, Edelsteinen, Email und Porzellan. Eine Berliner Privatsammlung, Berlin, 1996, p. 92, no. 35. The technique of raised hardstone decoration is usually associated with the court of Frederick the Great in Berlin and the rich mineral deposits found in Saxony. Friedrich Ludwig Hoffmann was active as a stone-cutter in Bayreuth, Germany, in 1762 and may have been one of a group of artists who moved to Berlin in 1763. For more information on Hoffmann, see L. Seelig, Golddosen des 18. Jahrhunderts aus dem Besitz der Fürsten von Thurn und Taxis, Munich, 2007, pp. 258-261, 383-385. Labradorite is a feldspar mineral found throughout the world with notable deposits in Canada, Slovakia, Norway, Finland and the USA. The stone's iridescence is created by its structural colouration, microstructures that interfere with the passage of light. The colour of the stone changes as the angle of illumination changes. The stone was used as decoration on gold boxes by other German goldsmiths, most notably in Dresden by Johann-Christian Neuber (1736-1808).

More from The Collector: European and English 18th and 19th Century Furniture and Works of Art, Silver, Ceramics and Gold Boxes

View All
View All