Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gifts of Grandeur: The Louis-Guillaume Cassé Snuffbox, 1761-1762

French, 1761-1762
The Victoria & Albert Museum

While we’ve seen snuffboxes take many shapes and forms, during the rise of the Rococo, boxes tended to be rectangular. The shape provided ample room on each side for additional adornment during a period when the fashion for boxes painted with intricate scenes was at an all-time high.

The box pictured above is painted with a scene on the lid which is after an engraving of François Boucher's “Le Concert Chinois.” Paintings by François Boucher and David Teniers were often replicated on the lids of snuffboxes.

Now part of the collection of Sir Arthur and Rosalinde Gilbert this snuffbox dates between 1761 and 1762 and is made of varicolored gold with the cover and base enameled en plein with grisaille chinoiserie scenes of a mother and child with a musician against a dark red ground. The typical Rococo adornment of chased fluting, shells and foliage make an unsurprising appearance. More interesting, the sides of the box—consisting of chased, multi-colored gold—are beautifully decorated with chinoiseries of birds and figures bordered by bright-cut straps and paterae.

This is the work of the goldsmiths at the French firm of Louis-Guillaume Cassé.

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