Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Sene and Detalla Snuffbox, 1800

Snuff Box
Sene and Detalla, Geneva
With Original Leather Box
Gold, Diamonds, Enamel
This and all related images:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

We’ve looked at a good many snuffboxes over the last three years, but this one is exceptionally fine. Here, we see an oval gold snuffbox enameled in translucent blue within taille d'épargne (a popular decorative technique of the Eighteenth Century also known as “sparing cut” in which engraved lines in a metal base are filled in with opaque enamel, without any variation in the depth of the lines) borders .

The cover of the snuffbox is set with glittering diamonds depicting a Chinoiserie pavilion which is trimmed with foliage and flowers within an additional border of diamonds with champlevé (The technique of decoration by enameling in which the design was made by lines or cells cut into the metal base by carving, engraving, etching or stamping and filled with powdered enamel of various colors and then fired to fuse the enamels) foliage between. The base of the box is beautifully engine turned and engraved with a temple beside a lake upon which ships float.

The box comes from Geneva, Switzerland and was probably produced for the Ottoman Empire, where there was a keen market for European-made objects in the Chinoiserie style.

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