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Snuff box

  • Place of origin:

    West Midlands (made)
    Bilston (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1765-1775 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    copper, enamel

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Lady Charlotte Schreiber

  • Museum number:

    414:1555-1885

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 72, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 8, shelf 12

This English box proves the international fame of Frederick II, the Great (1712-1786, Kind in Prussia from 1740, King of Prussia from 1772) after the Seven Years War from 1756 to 1763. His likeness was printed and painted on various types of household items, such as tea pots, mugs and snuffboxes like this. The idealised portrait on this box shows him in his twenties and is loosely based on portraits of Frederick as crown prince of Prussia by Antoine Pesne (1683-1757). In fact, Frederick the Great was in his fifties when the box was made. Several English enamel boxes with his portraits, some more and some less truthful to his real appearance at the time are known, among them another example

The box is a product of one of the enamel manufactories in the West Midlands, where other examples with a similar pink enamelled background with white dots were produced around this time.

Taking snuff was very popular with men and women alike throughout most of the eighteenth century. As a result snuffboxes became an important fashion accessory and were on offer for all budgets and in various forms. Enamel and copper snuffboxes imitated the more expensive porcelain boxes.

Physical description

Rectangular snuffbox, enamelled copper with gilt-metal mounts, West Midlands, probably Bilston. The lid has a pink background with white dots and a central cartouche containing an idealised portrait of Frederick the Great of Prussia against the white enamel background, surrounded by a band inscribed 'FEDERICUS MAXIMUS BORUSS.[ORUM] REX' and golden rocaille scrolls; the sides and underside of the box also with pink enamel background with central white cartouche that contain flower arrangements; the inside of the box white enamel.

Place of Origin

West Midlands (made)
Bilston (possibly, made)

Date

ca. 1765-1775 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (made)

Materials and Techniques

copper, enamel

Marks and inscriptions

FREDERICUS MAXIMUS BORUSS. REX
Frederick the Great King of Prussia
on ribbon around portrait

Dimensions

Height: 4 cm overall, Height: 3 cm without lid, Length: 7.3 cm, Depth: 5.6 cm

Descriptive line

Snuffbox with portrait of Frederick the Great, enamel and copper with gilt-metal mounts, West Midlands, poss. Bilston, ca. 1765-1775

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

Benajmin. Susan. English Enamel Boxes. From the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuries. London: Orbis Publishing, 1978. ISBN0856130389. 128 pages. P.99

Labels and date

Snuffbox with
Frederick the Great
About 1765–75
This English box proves the international fame of Frederick the Great after the Seven Years War of 1756–63. The idealised portrait shows him in his twenties. In fact he was in his fifties when the box was made. Enamel and copper snuffboxes imitated the more expensive porcelain boxes.
West Midlands, possibly Bilston, England
Enamel on copper and gilded metal
Inscribed on lid ‘FEDERICUS MAXIMUS BORUSS.[ORUM] REX’
for ‘Frederick the Great King of the Prussians’
Given by Lady Charlotte Schreiber
Museum no. 414:1555-1885 [2011]

Materials

Copper; Enamel

Techniques

Enamelling (painting)

Subjects depicted

Rocaille; Uniforms; Flowers

Categories

Containers

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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