A VERY FINE SAXON GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
A VERY FINE SAXON GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
A VERY FINE SAXON GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
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A VERY FINE SAXON GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF MR AND MRS DAVID WHEELER
A SAXON GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX

BY JOHANN-CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775-1780; STAMPED NEUBER, DRESDE AND 20 CAR; WITH LATER FRENCH IMPORT MARK 1819-1838, FRENCH IMPORT MARK FOR GOLD 1838-1864 AND TWICE WITH FRENCH IMPORT MARK FOR GOLD AFTER 1893

Details
A SAXON GOLD-MOUNTED HARDSTONE SNUFF-BOX
BY JOHANN-CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775-1780; STAMPED NEUBER, DRESDE AND 20 CAR; WITH LATER FRENCH IMPORT MARK 1819-1838, FRENCH IMPORT MARK FOR GOLD 1838-1864 AND TWICE WITH FRENCH IMPORT MARK FOR GOLD AFTER 1893
Large oval box, the lid, sides and base with bands of grey striated agate flutes below nephrite laurel garlands held by turquoise forget-me-not flowerhead alternating with lapis-lazuli pellets, the sides and base with clusters of wild pansies painted under crystal and nestling within a simulated pearl surround, the lid centred by a later painted hardstone plaque depicting a basket of flowers within a border of sea pearls and a border of simulated pearls, the rims with two bands of white chalcedony bound with carnelian ribbon
3 ½ in. (87 mm.) long
Provenance
George Alexander Lockett (1855-1923) of 58 Princes Gate, London, SW7 and then by descent to his wife Emma Lockett (1868-1941),
George A. Lockett, dec'd; Christie's, London, 12 June 1942, lot 74 (£150 to D. Black),
Duke of Kent,
A Gentleman; Christie's, Geneva, 8 May 1979, lot 119 (70,000 CHF).
Literature
A. Kugel ed., Gold, Jasper and Carnelian, Johann Christian Neuber at the Saxon Court, London, 2012, no.104, p.352.
Jean-Louis de Rambures, L'orfèvre minéralogiste Neuber, Connaissance des Arts, August 1970, pp. 40-47
Jean-Auguste Lehninger, Description de la ville de Dresde ... et de ses environs, Dresden, 1782, p. 337.
Walter Holzhausen, Johann Christian Neuber, Dresden, 1935.
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

A SAXON MASTER WITH A EUROPEAN REPUTATION
Johann Christian Neuber is considered to be one of the most important masters of the Neoclassical style and is remembered especially for his hardstones-inlaid pieces which proved a success in his lifetime with the enlightened aristocracy, combining scientific curiosity, craftsmanship and beauty. As Jean Auguste Lehninger, a contemporary visitor to Dresden, wrote in 1782 Chez le Sieur NEUBERT, Jouailler de la Cour, on trouve nombre de pierres rares et très belles, toutes sortes d'ouvrages de Jouaillerie et particulièrement un superbe assortiment de tabatières de pierres composées, espèce de mosaïque qui étonne le connoisseur et dont le Sr NEUBERT fait un commerce considérable - In Neuber's workshop, court jeweler, one can find rare and beautiful stones, all sort of jewellery pieces and in particular a superb selection of snuff-boxes set with mosaic of hardstones, which will suprise visitors and are popular with collectors].

'LUXURY, TASTE AND SCIENCE'
After an apprenticeship with Johann Friedrich Trechaon, a goldsmith of Swedish origin from 1752, Neuber became a master goldsmith and burger of Dresden in 1762. Five years later he was named a court artisan to Friedrich Augustus III (1750-1827), Elector of Saxony and sometime before 1775, he was appointed the Elector's court jeweller. Taught about hardstones by Heinrich Taddel, his father-in-law and the director of the Grünes Gewölbe whom he succeeded in 1769, Neuber saw, according to Walter Holzhausen, the artistic and commercial potential of using the many native stones of Saxony in his work. Neuber perfected the local tradition of working with stones by developing the technique known as Zellenmosaic [cloisonné mosaic] which corresponded to the emerging interest in mineralogy in elite and aristocratic circles. Neuber advertised a wide range of small objects made from inlaid hardstones called Galantariewaren (useful but precious objects) including boxes for ladies and gentlemen, cane handles, watch cases, chatelaines, and jewellery such as bracelets and rings which accounted for the majority of his production, although he was commissioned for two notable large-scale pieces: the side table inlaid with 169 hardstones given by the city of Freiburg to Frederick Augustus III in 1769 and the table inlaid with 128 hardstones given by the Elector to the baron de Breteuil in 1780 to celebrate the peace of Teschen. But the masterpieces, he is best remembered for today are the Steinkabinetts-Tabatieren, snuff boxes smoothly inlaid with as many as 140 different Saxon polished hardstone specimens in a gold cagework, arranged artistically and numbered to correspond with an often-concealed explanatory booklet. His distinctive style was eventually counter-productive with a novelty-seeking public and by the end of the 1780s, his over-extended enterprise started to suffer increasingly severe financial problems. Despite holding a lottery in 1788 and other fundraising measures, business failure finally led Neuber to retire in 1805 to the house of his son Christian Adolf in Eibenstock where he died on 2nd April 1808.

ONE OF THREE BOXES STAMPED 'NEU/BER-DRE/SDE, 20/CAR'
The great majority of Neuber's pieces are unsigned and unmarked which makes the dating difficult; some are engraved 'Neuber à Dresde' on the bezel while a very small number have the hallmarks NEU/BER-DRE/SDE, 20/CAR as on this example. Only two other boxes with the same marks are recorded to this day: one set with an agate cameo depicting Ulysses and Circe believed to have been given by Stanislas Auguste Poniatowski, King of Poland to Empress Catherine II, now in a private collection, and one later set with a portrait of Mademoiselle de Valois now in the Gilbert Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Although recognisably similar, each box is unique especially in the hardstones mosaic arrangement. Many are set on the cover with a central decorative medallion. Neuber often opted to decorate the lid of his boxes with floral compositions. The motifs could either be set against a gold ground or on a plaque applied in relief with carved stones. Neuber also commissioned from the Meissen manufacture small decorative porcelain plaques to set into his snuff-boxes sometimes preferring to use enamel medallions which offered a wider variety of subjects. This decorative element allowed for possible replacement later on in line with changing tastes when new plaques could be fitted to replace a miniature, enamel or cameo with another, as on this example. Here the central plaque made of stone painted with a basket of flowers raised on a plinth is dated circa 1830.

WILD PANSIES: A LOVER'S PRESENT
The flower motif is a recurring theme on Neuber boxes often featuring very recognisable species which have, beyond their decorative properties, a symbolic meaning. The plant is thus chosen as an attribute, giving clues to the identity of the subject or owner or to provide a moral or philosophical annotation. Here the choice of the wild pansies suggest a lover's present. The viola tricolor or wild pansy, also known as 'Johnny Jump up', 'heartsease', 'heart's ease', 'heart's delight', 'tickle-my-fancy', 'Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me', 'come-and-cuddle-me', 'three faces in a hood', 'love-in-idleness', or 'pink of my john' is a relatively common European wildflower that has long inspired poets and artists notably Shakespeare in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' who uses the flower to provide the essential dramatic and comical features for his play. Indeed according to Roman mythology, Cupid shot one of his arrows at the imperial votaress, but missed and instead struck the 'love-in-idleness' turning the white flower purple and giving it its magic love potion, so that when dripped onto someone's eyelids it causes an individual to fall madly in love with the next person they see. This motif reverse painted on rock crystal, despite its strong message, was only used on one other of Neuber's snuff-box previously in the collection of Alexander Baring, 4th Baron Ashburton (1835-1889) first sold by his daughter, Mrs Adam at Christie's, 7 July 1947, lot 130 and again in Treasures, Sotheby's, London on 6 July 2010, lot 15.

PROVENANCE
This box was previously in the collection George Alexander Lockett, (1855-1923) a prominent figure in the polo and four-in-hand coaching world, whose family fortune had been founded on the South American nitrate trade. His collection which comprised an important group of gold-boxes was sold at auction at Christie's following the death of his widow in 1941. The box sold under lot 74 was described as 'inlaid...in the manner of Nieberg of Dresden' and was purchased for £150 by D. Black, a dealer; it is believed to have then been purchased by the Prince George, Duke of Kent (1902 -1942) shortly before his untimely death on August 25th, 1942 and later sold privately.



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