The most celebrated of the Geneva bijoutiers horlogers
(makers of watches, watch cases, snuff boxes and other small objects of vertu) in the first half of the 19th century was Jean-François Bautte (1772-1837). Jean-François was the son of Abraham Bautte, an enameller and partner in 1765 of Louis Galopin, and his wife Marie Anne Mare. On 19 May 1789, he was formally apprenticed to Moulinié & Blanchot, watchcase makers, both of whom had been received as masters the previous year. Jacques-Dauphin Moulinié (1761-1838) and Jean-François Bautte registered a company together in 1796, stating that it had been in existence since 1 August 1793 with a 9 year contract. On 1 October 1804, a new company, Moulinié, Bautte & Co., was created for 4 years with the addition of Jean-Gabriel Moynier (1772-1840), this time not just as watch case makers but 'pour la commerce d'horlogerie et bijouterie'
(for trade in watchmaking and objects of vertu). From 1808 until 1821 when Moulinié retired, the firm was known as Moulinié, Bautte & Moynier, and subsequently, until 1826, as Bautte & Moynier. The business was continued as J.F. Bautte & Cie., even after Jean-François's death in 1837, by his son Jacques and son-in-law Jean Samuel Rossel, until 1855 when it became Rossel-Bautte & Cie. The firm had grown rapidly in size and importance, already employing 60 in-house and 30 external workers by 1810. As with the firm of Jean-George Rémond, it is evident that a large part of Bautte's success came from energetic trade abroad, for Bautte particularly in Italy and in Paris, where he had first entered a maker’s mark in 1808.
During the second quarter of the 19th century, the firm produced a number of snuff boxes decorated with various permutations of brightly-coloured flowers. It is probable that they were intended for export to Islamic countries such as Turkey or Persia as some examples are evidently based on early Qajar enamels. The present snuff box with its raised enamels is perhaps closer to the style of flowered Geneva enamel watchcases of the second half of the 17th century. For another snuff box, now in the Khalili Collection, with similar decoration, struck with makers’ mark and rim inscribed: J.F. Bautte & Cie. a Geneve, see Haydn Williams, Enamels of the World - The Khalili Collections, London, 2009, p. 315, no. 223.