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Box

  • Place of origin:

    Meissen (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1745 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Herold, Christian Friedrich, born 1700 - died 1779 (painter)
    Meissen porcelain factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hard-paste porcelain painted in enamels and gilt, mounted in gilt copper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Carew from the Farquhar Matheson Collection

  • Museum number:

    C.541-1921

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 139, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 20, shelf 7

This box was probably a portable container for snuff. Snuff was made of fermented tobacco mixed with various perfumed oils, herbs or spices and compressed into a block, which was then grated to make a fine powder ready for inhalation. Tobacco was originally discovered by Europeans through their encounters with the indigenous peoples of the Americas who used it in barter and trade. It came into general use in Western Europe around 1570 where it was highly prized for its medicinal and narcotic properties. By the 1630s it was used by all classes, despite its cost.

Germany was one of the first European countries to establish methods of processing tobacco, around 1643. Tobacco could be smoked through cheap, disposable pipes but the wealthy preferred to take it as snuff and snuff boxes became status objects. The lid of this snuff box presents a contemporary image of affluence and style. A view of a large moated building and city dwellings provides a background for three fashionably-dressed European figures who stand beside an imposing statue in the foreground. The female figure is protected from the sun by a parasol held by a turbaned black figure. Like tobacco, African servants offered exotic associations and were a marker of luxury within the European home.

Physical description

Box of hard-paste porcelain. Rectangular, with incurved corners. Painted in enamel colours and gilt, mounted in gilt copper. Lid painted with outdoor scene, three Europeans in foreground with black servant holding parasol, next to statue; large castle-like moated building in mid-ground (possibly scene of Dresden?); whole enclosed by borders of rococo scrollwork. Underneath a harbour scene with ships and figures.

Place of Origin

Meissen (made)

Date

ca. 1745 (made)

Artist/maker

Herold, Christian Friedrich, born 1700 - died 1779 (painter)
Meissen porcelain factory (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Hard-paste porcelain painted in enamels and gilt, mounted in gilt copper

Dimensions

Height: 4.1 cm, Length: 8.7 cm, Width: 7.1 cm

Descriptive line

Box featuring scene with group of Europeans and black servant, hard-paste porcelain painted in enamels and gilt, mounted in gilt copper, painted by Christian Friedrich Herold, made by Meissen porcelain factory, Germany, ca. 1745

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Honey, W. B. Dresden china: an introduction to the study of Meissen porcelain. London: A. & C. Black, 1946, Pl. XXX (f), pp. 69, 96, 127.
Honey, W. B. German porcelain London: Faber and Faber, 1947, Pl. 6D.

Materials

Hard paste porcelain; Gilt copper

Techniques

Painted; Gilt; Mounted

Subjects depicted

Harbours; Servants

Categories

Black History; Ceramics; Porcelain

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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