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Tobacco box

Tobacco box

  • Place of origin:

    Netherlands (made)

  • Date:

    early 18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Brass, sheet and cast, engraved

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Miss Ethel Gurney

  • Museum number:

    M.175-1939

  • Gallery location:

    Metalware, Room 116, The Belinda Gentle Gallery, case 1

This tobacco box is superbly engraved with scenes intended to stimulate conversation. The compartments depict a woman committing adultery in view of her husband inscribed: 'How can a young woman bully an old man Another makes the baby and I like a mother rock the cradle?'; a loveless marriage inscribed: 'I have an old husband who gives me no pleasure, but Venus manages the business so that I have no reason to complain'; and a false bottom which shows a happy family with the inscription: 'One finds nothing so sweet in fidelity as love between a man and a wife'.

Physical description

Engraved on the lid: Aeneas Rescuing Anchises from burning Troy; on the inside of the lid , a scene of adultery, and an inscription which translates, How can a young woman bully an old man? Another makes the baby, and I like a mother must rock the cradle. The box has a secret lid engraved with a domestic scene and: I have an old husband who gives me no pleasure, but Venus manages the business so that I have no reason to complain, on one side; on the other a woman hitting a man with her chatelaine, and the inscription, O miserable marriage, would that you had never taken place.

The base has a false bottom, and the two scenes show a happy family, with the inscription, one finds nothing so sweet in fidelity as love between man and wife, and a warrior pursuing a woman with children, with the inscription, where man despises true love there is a land that stands in evil. The underside is engraved with Alexander visiting Diogenes.

Place of Origin

Netherlands (made)

Date

early 18th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Brass, sheet and cast, engraved

Dimensions

Height: 3.2 cm, Length: 10.8 cm, Width: 8.5 cm

Descriptive line

Brass tobacco box, The Netherlands, early 18th century.

Labels and date

BADA 2004 Exhibition label:
TOBACCO BOX
Brass, The Netherlands, early 18th-century
This tobacco box contains several compartments all exquisitely engraved with scenes illustrating the virtues of a sober family life. Inside the lid a woman is depicted committing adultery in full view of her husband. An inscription in Dutch translates as, "How can a young woman bully an old man? Another makes the baby and I like a mother rock the cradle".
Another compartment is engraved with a domestic scene and the inscription 'I have an old husband who gives me no pleasure, but Venus manages the business so that I have no reason to complain'. The base has a false bottom. Its lid depicts a happy family, with the inscription, 'One finds nothing so sweet in fidelity as love between a man and wife',
The two exterior faces show scenes from classical mythology: Aeneas escaping burning Troy with his father Anchises, and Alexander visiting Diogenes.
M.175-1939 [March 2004]

Materials

Brass

Techniques

Engraved; Cast

Subjects depicted

Adultery

Categories

Metalwork; Personal accessories; Marriage

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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