492
492
A two-colour gold and enamel snuff box, Les Frères Toussaint, Hanau, circa 1785
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492
A two-colour gold and enamel snuff box, Les Frères Toussaint, Hanau, circa 1785
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Style: European Silver, Ceramics, and Objects of Vertu

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London

A two-colour gold and enamel snuff box, Les Frères Toussaint, Hanau, circa 1785
circular, the lid applied with an enamel plaque of a young girl mourning the death of her canary, after L'oiseau mort by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, attributed to Pierre François Marcinhès, within a citron gold laurel wreath frame, further surrounded by an opaque white and translucent bright orange enamel border over engine-turning, the sides and base similarly decorated, French prestige marks including maker's mark
5.3cm., 2 1/8. in. diameter
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Catalogue Note

Another enamel painting representing the same subject, signed on the reverse by the Geneva enameller Jean-François Marcinhès (1739-1778), is to be found in the collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (Robert Bayne-Powell, Catalogue of Portrait Miniatures in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1985, p. 217, nr. PD.45-1948). Along with other talented enamel painters from Geneva, such as Jean-François Favre and Jacques Thouron, Marcinhès had moved to Paris by 1770.

Les Frères Toussaint, the Hanau makers of the present snuff box, were strongly influenced by designs and tendencies in gold box-making in Paris at the time. Also of Huguenot descent, the brothers Charles (1720-1790) and Pierre-Etienne (1726-1803/1806) had arrived in Hanau from Berlin in 1752. By 1762, they had several German and foreign craftsmen working for them, making Hanau an important centre for the production of gold boxes.
It is therefore possible that they had not only seen the engravings after paintings by Greuze which had been in circulation since the seventeen sixties, such as that by Jean-Jacques Flipart (1760/61, see fig. 1), but they might even have been aware of French boxes applied with enamel plaques representing the same subject, such as a jewelled example by Louis Roucel, Paris, 1770/71, from the Thurn and Taxis collection (Lorenz Seelig, Golddosen des 18. Jahrhunderts aus dem Besitz der Fürsten von Thurn und Taxis, Munich, 2007, no. 10., p. 170), since the prince’s valet was also an important client of theirs on behalf of his noble patron. Especially in Germany, Greuze’s paintings were very popular among princely collectors. Interestingly, the sides on the present box are not enamelled, as one might have expected, which could be interpreted as a demonstration of the advanced engine-turning done in Hanau from their adoption of Etienne Flamant’s turning lathe in 1773 (Seelig, ‘Eighteenth century Hanau gold boxes’, Silver Society of Canada Journal 18, (2015), pp. 32-55)).

Style: European Silver, Ceramics, and Objects of Vertu

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London