A GERMAN GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
A GERMAN GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
A GERMAN GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
A GERMAN GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more
A GERMAN GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX

CIRCA 1780, WITH LATER SCRATCHED INSCRIPTION 'NEUBER A DRESDE'

Details
A GERMAN GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
CIRCA 1780, WITH LATER SCRATCHED INSCRIPTION 'NEUBER A DRESDE'
Rectangular box, the cover, sides and base formed of bloodstone panels inset with apricot-coloured agate pellets in gold cloisons mounted à cage within pilaster corner mounts, the cover mount chased with a frieze of scrolls and florets on a sablé ground, the foot mount chased with egg-and-dart motif, the flange later engraved 'Neuber a Dresde'
3 1⁄8 in. (81 mm.) wide
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay


This snuff-box is very similar to one made in Paris in 1749-1750 in the Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection (No 51, pp.182 and 183, A. Somers Cocks and C. Truman, London, 1984) with cagework chased with flowers on matted ground.

This unusual, though somehow very modern, style of decoration bears some resemblance to the zellenmosaik lapidary in which hardstone panels are suspended en cage within a fine geometric cagework of gold. This technique was perfected by the Dresden goldsmith and jeweller Johann Christian Neuber (1736-1808) who had understood the artistic and commercial potential of using local Saxon stones in his work to satisfy his rich patrons' emerging interest in mineralogy.

However, gold-mounted hardstone boxes were by no means the privilege of Germany. The fashion for these existed in England and in France much earlier, certainly prompted there in part by the rescinding of the sumptuary laws relating to gold and also an appreciation of the beauty and symbolic value of hardstones. Aristocrats and courtesans 'accumulated' gold snuff-boxes as a fashion accessory with Madame de Pompadour owning no less than eighteen stone boxes when she died in 1764 (Cordey, No 2385-2401), while the Dauphine Marie-Josephe's inventory after death in 1767 lists fourteen gold-mounted hardstone snuff-boxes.


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