Empress Elizabeth (1709-61)
Paul Petrovitch as a child, later Paul I (1754-1801)
Lot 58, base
Russian medal, 1739 in P. Ricaud de Tiregale, Médailles sur les Principaux Evénemens de l'Empire de Russe, 1782, p. 75.
Russian medal, 1754, celebrating the birth of Paul Petrovitch, de Tiregale, Médailles sur les Principaux Evénemens de l'Empire de Russe, 1782, p. 87
Gold and diamond set box, by Pauzié, in the Armory Museum at the Kremlin, Moscow. Illustrated in M. M. Postnikova-Losseva, L'Orfèvrerie et la Bijouterie au XV-XX ss, 1983, opp. p. 80
Russian medal depicting Empress Elizabeth, 1754, de Tiregale, Médailles sur les Principaux Evénemens de l'Empire de Russe, 1782, p. 87
Exquisite in its execution and remarkable for its large size, this extraordinary gold box was clearly intended as an Imperial gift. The cover features a bas-relief portrait bust of Empress Elizabeth, inspired by a medal struck during the Empress's lifetime. The base, with its allegory of Russian might in peace and war, appears to be based upon a medal struck during reign of Empress Anna (r. 1730-40). The sides are richly chased with cartouches celebrating notable events of the Empress's reign. In one scene, Providence presents the infant Paul Petrovitch (b. 1754, r. 1796-1801 as Paul I), the son of Catherine the Great (r. 1762-96) to a figure representing Russia. In another, the young child Paul is directed to his destiny, echoing a medal of the same theme struck during the reign of Peter the Great in 1682. As the Empress Elizabeth had assumed patronage for her grand-nephew, his presence on this box was a clear indication of intended dynastic succession. The scenes firmly date this box between 1754, after the birth of Paul and 1761, the death of Elizabeth.
Jérémie Pauzié (1716-79, working 1740-64) supplied this tour-de-force of chasing. As a Swiss émigré, Pauzié was apprenticed to the Parisian Graveraus, the Russian court jeweler, and first gained the notice of the Empress Anna. He later served both the Empress Elizabeth and Catherine the Great. While Pauzié is best remembered as a jeweler, at least 12 Pauzié gold boxes relating to Elizabeth were listed in Folkersam's 1907 Inventaire de l'Argenterie Conservé dans les Gardes-Meubles des Palais Imperiaux.
Pauzié recorded in his memoirs that diamonds were often needed for large tobacco boxes and rings as presents to foreign ministers for farewell audiences. He was apparently the only craftsman charged with these important orders which were arranged through the Chancellor Vorontsov, on instructions from the Empress. One order for Pauzié "to work on a large gold tobacco-box with diamonds costing 1,650 rubles" is still extant, and was paid for in September 1759. Typically boxes cost considerably less, between 300 and 350 rubles.
Only one other box of this magnitude is known. It also features a portrait bust of Empress Elizabeth on the cover, a Minerva figure on the base, and sides chased with notable events from the life of the Empress. It may possibly have been ordered in 1759 as a 50th birthday gift for the Empress's favorite, Count Razumovsky. It is now in the collection of the Armory Museum, at the Kremlin, Moscow.
(see: Notes of the Court Jeweler Jeremie Posier [Pauzie] 1729-64, ed. A A Kunin, in Russkaya Starina, 1870, pp. 42-127; A. M. Terekhova "A Gold and Diamond Snuffbox of the 18th century by Pauzie" in Annual Report of the State Museum of the Moscow Kremlin, 1973, pp. 162-68)