The Wallace Collection Catalogues of Gold Boxes

The Wallace Collection Catalogues of Gold Boxes
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Article code10840
The Wallace Collection Catalogues of Gold Boxes
375 pages
Color photos
Hard cover
31 x 25 cm
2,591 kg

The 18th-century gold snuffbox was the ultimate fashion accessory - beautifully made, exquisitely decorated and very expensive, its form and ornament subject to the changing taste of the time. Playing an important role in self-promotion, diplomacy and collecting, a box denoted status and could be used as currency for its monetary value. Its practical purpose was usually secondary. The collection of gold boxes at the Wallace Collection is small in number, but contains some of the finest in any museum and can boast of some of the most famous boxes in the world. The 99 pieces catalogued here represent a brilliant cross-section of the products of the European goldsmith between c. 1730 and 1830. The French boxes will be well known to collectors and students of these remarkable examples of the ability of goldsmiths, enamelers, lapidaries and miniaturists to create something novel for each of their discerning clients. The most famous makers in Paris - Jean Ducrollay, Pierre-François Drais, Jean-Marie Tiron, Jean Frémin and Louis Roucel- are well represented. However, research by Charles Truman, one of the world's leading experts on gold boxes, has changed the geography of the collection. We now know that most of the boxes previously considered Swiss were actually made in Germany. Outstanding examples - from Hanau, Berlin and Dresden in particular - have now joined the masterworks of the French goldsmiths. Among them is one of rare beauty by Johann Christian Neuber, as well as signed enameled examples by Ignatius Peter Krafft and Jean-Guillaume-George Kru¨ger. In the introductory essay, Charles Truman discusses the history of snuff-taking and the development, manufacture and collecting of gold boxes. Throughout the catalogue he places a particular emphasis on the design sources from which the craftsmen responsible for these wonderful works of art took their inspiration. Like the entire Collection, the Wallace gold boxes are a monument to the taste of one family of great collectors. Rebecca Wallis discusses the history of collecting and display of the Wallace boxes, which were acquired over a period of fifty years only and reflect the taste for these exquisite objects during the middle decades of the nineteenth century. Scientific analysis of the boxes by Seoyoung Kim has brought new insights into the standards of gold used in Europe, and in particular the wide variations in those standards even in the best-regulated cities. This beautiful publication considerably advances our knowledge and appreciation of the Wallace Collection's gold boxes and establishes their place in the scholarship of 18th-century decorative arts.