A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775
A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775
A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775
A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775
A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775
A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775
A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775
A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775
A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775
10

A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775

Estimate: 180,000 - 220,000 GBP

91011

A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775

Estimate: 180,000 - 220,000 GBP

Lot sold:212,500GBP

Description

A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775


oval, the lid and base with a sunray pattern of carnelian, hung with bloodstone laurel garlands, centred with simulated pearls, within a border of alternating turquoise forget-me-not flowers and simulated pearls within bloodstone leaves, on chased gold ground, the lid set with a later enamel plaque painted with St Matthew the Apostle, Continental School, circa 1825, within chased gold frame, the sides similarly decorated, in a later leather case

8.5cm., 3⅜in. wide

(2)

Condition Report

To request a condition report for this lot, please email Oana.Barbu@sothebys.com

Provenance

Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773–1843);

his sale, Christie's London, 12 June 1843, lot 542;

Emile Wertheimer, his sale, Sotheby's London, 13-14 July 1953, lot 279;

anonymous vendor, Christie's London, 6 November 2001, lot 93


An earlier owner of the present box was probably Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843, see fig. 1) the ninth child of King George III and his consort Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He was sent with his brothers, Prince Ernest, later Duke of Cumberland, and Prince Adolphus, later Duke of Cambridge, to the University of Göttingen in Germany, and was the only son of King George III who did not receive military training. On 4 April 1793, the Prince secretly married Lady Augusta Murray (1768-1830) in Rome, having met the daughter of the 4th Earl of Dunmore on his travels through Italy. Because their marriage took place against the consent of his father, it was considered invalid and eliminated his children from the royal line of succession. Prince Augustus Frederick was created Duke of Sussex in 1801, and became president of the Society of Arts in 1816. Between 1830 and 1838, The Duke of Sussex was President of the Royal Society, the oldest national scientific institution in the world. Not only did he have a great love for the arts, but also a strong interest in biblical studies; his personal library contained over 50,000 theological manuscripts. It might therefore not be a coincidence that the present gold box, possibly a present from his mother, Queen Charlotte, a known admirer of Neuber and owner of several of his boxes, has been set, possibly by the Duke himself with an enamel plaque of St Matthew, dating from around 1825.

Literature

Alexis Kugel, Gold, Jasper and Carnelian, Johann Christian Neuber at the Saxon Court, London, 2012, cat. no. 105, p. 352.

Catalogue Note

The carnelian, bloodstone and turquoise in this beautiful gold box are arranged in a technique for which perhaps Johann Christian Neuber is best known, the so-called Zellenmosaik (cell mosaic). Early forms of this method, by which hardstone or glass tesserae are separated by areas of gold, date back as far as the fourth century BC, as proved by the gold surfaces of jewellery or ritual objects from the Achaemenid Empire, embellished in cell mosaic made of garnets, mother of pearl or glass. The technique was altered and refined throughout the centuries in different cultures around the globe, and the Saxon court jeweller Johann Christian Neuber (1736-1808) perfected it to such a degree that the beholder of his Galanteriewaren (small, precious objects with a function) is given the impression of one smooth surface, rather than an inlaid hardstone mosaic. Another gold box by Neuber with very similar hardstone inlay, the lid centred with an agate cameo representing Minerva, can be found in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (inv. no. M.108-1917).


Johann Christian Neuber was born in Neuwernsdorf in the Ore mountains, and in 1752 he was apprenticed to Johann Friedrich Trechaon, a goldsmith of Swedish origin. Ten years later he became master goldsmith and burger of Dresden, succeeding Heinrich Taddel as director of the Grünes Gewölbe, which had been founded in 1723 as the luxurious treasure chamber of Augustus the Strong of Poland and Saxony to form an extensive collection of objets d’art from baroque to classicism. Before 1775 Neuber was also appointed Court Jeweller. One of his most famous objects in larger scale is a side table inlaid with 128 hardstones given by Frederick Augustus III, Elector of Saxony, to the Baron de Breteuil in 1780 to celebrate the peace of Teschen (now in the Musee du Louvre). Neuber advertised a wide range of small objects made from inlaid hardstones for ladies and gentlemen. Not only was he a visionary genius in terms of the aesthetics of these gold boxes, cane handles, carnet de bals etc., but he also had a strong scientific interest. Both lapidary and amateur scientist, Neuber had even rented several quarries in Saxony to pursue his fascination for the hardstones found in local mines, which had been of economic importance to Saxony since the beginning of the eighteenth century. For many of his precious boxes, Neuber used a broad variety of locally-mined stones, such as agate from Schlottwitz or ‘starling’ stone from Chemnitz and sometimes he would even combine these with more exotic hardstones such as Egyptian porphyry or lapis lazuli from Afghanistan (for example in a magnificent hardstone gold box with an architectural perspective of galeried arches formed of agate, chrysophrase and bloodstone, surrounding a lapis lazuli table on porphyry ground, from La Collection Ribes I, Sotheby's Paris, 11 December 2019, lot 59).


Both Neuber’s decorative Zellenmosaik boxes and the portable mineralogical Galanterien, the so-called Steinkabinette, also used as royal gifts, were disseminated across Europe by wealthy tourists visiting Dresden after the Seven Years’ War had ended in 1763, bringing the city back to its old splendour as the capital of one of the richest provinces in Germany. As the collections in the Green Vaults impressively demonstrate to this day, Dresden was regarded as a major centre for mounted jewels and the production of metalwork – partially also due to the extensive silver deposits to be found there - from a very early point in time until the eighteenth century. This was also acknowledged by Dr Johnson’s friend, Mrs Piozzi in 1789 on her tour through Germany: ‘Saxony is a very rich country in her own bosom it seems; the agates and jaspers produced here are excellent.’ (Mrs Piozzi, Observations and reflections made in the course of a journey through France, Italy and Germany, London, 1789, vol. ii, p. 337)


An earlier owner of the present box was probably Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (1773-1843, see fig. 1) the ninth child of King George III and his consort Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. He was sent with his brothers, Prince Ernest, later Duke of Cumberland, and Prince Adolphus, later Duke of Cambridge, to the University of Göttingen in Germany, and was the only son of King George III who did not receive military training. On 4 April 1793, the Prince secretly married Lady Augusta Murray (1768-1830) in Rome, having met the daughter of the 4th Earl of Dunmore on his travels through Italy. Because their marriage took place against the consent of his father, it was considered invalid and eliminated his children from the royal line of succession. Prince Augustus Frederick was created Duke of Sussex in 1801, and became president of the Society of Arts in 1816. Between 1830 and 1838, The Duke of Sussex was President of the Royal Society, the oldest national scientific institution in the world. Not only did he have a great love for the arts, but also a strong interest in biblical studies; his personal library contained over 50,000 theological manuscripts. It might therefore not be a coincidence that the present gold box, possibly a present from his mother, Queen Charlotte, a known admirer of Neuber and owner of several of his boxes, has been set, possibly by the Duke himself with an enamel plaque of St Matthew, dating from around 1825.

A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775
A GOLD, HARDSTONE AND ENAMEL SNUFF BOX, JOHANN CHRISTIAN NEUBER, DRESDEN, CIRCA 1775
Lot Closed