Thursday, February 26, 2015

Gifts of Grandeur: The Monkey in a Wig Snuffbox, 1872-1922

This and all related images from:
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Porcelain snuffboxes from the late Nineteenth Century are considerably rarer than those of gold or hardstone since, despite being made in far greater quantities, most of them didn’t have the sturdiness necessary to survive. Snuffboxes made from porcelain mirrored the shapes of those of precious metal or stone and featured painted scenes or portraits.

The largest manufacturer of these boxes was Meissen in Germany, however, this example was produced in Fürstenberg ca.1750. In this case, the porcelain was later mounted into this form. The gold mounts date to 1872 and were changed in 1922.

The box is adorned with birds on the outside. These are painted in a realistic manner. However, the interior of the box features some odd adornment which is decidedly not realistic. The animals, on the inside, are treated as people, dressed in human costume. The predominant scene is that of a monkey in a wig who is administering an enema to a prostrate cat.

That's a sentence I don't get to type very often.

This box was once owned by HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent—the wife of the Duke of Kent (son of King George V and Queen Mary). 

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