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

BERLIN, CIRCA 1765; WITH ILLEGIBLE MARKS AND TWO FRENCH IMPORT MARKS FOR 1864-1893

Details
A GERMAN GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
BERLIN, CIRCA 1765; WITH ILLEGIBLE MARKS AND TWO FRENCH IMPORT MARKS FOR 1864-1893
Rectangular lapis-lazuli box with cut corners, rounded front and baluster sides, the cover and sides overlaid with gold cagework boldly chased in high relief with Hercules and Omphale after François Lemoyne, within a rococo frame, the sides with floral and scrolls on matted ground, the pierced scrolling silver thumbpiece set with diamonds
3 ½ in. (88 mm.) wide
Provenance
Property of a Gentleman; Christie's, Geneva, 8 May 1979, lot 108 (CHF 36,000).
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.

Lot Essay

Carved from a single stone this style of boxes was especially common throughout the 18th century in England but especially in Germany where stones such as quartz and copper minerals were found in commercial quantities. These boxes mounted à cage with mythological subjects were popular from about the 1740 to 1765 and mostly made in Berlin which was then the most important centre of production for hardstones boxes under the patronage of Frederick the Great.

The scene on the cover is based on François Lemoyne’s masterpiece Hercules and Omphale painted in Rome in 1724 which had a lasting influence on many artists. In the myth, Hercules was enslaved by Omphale, Queen of Lydia, for having murdered his friend Iphitus in a fit of madness, and soon afterwards became her lover. In the scene, Hercules, the classical hero is depicted holding a distaff and a spindle, being caressed by a seductive and powerful-looking Omphale who wears his lion's skin and holds his club while Cupid looks on witnessing what love can do to men. The essential feature is the exchange of attributes suggesting the idea of woman's domination over man, a subject absent from classical Greek art for its demeaning view of a legendary hero but found in Hellenistic times and later favoured in Baroque art.

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