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Snuff-box and cover

Snuff-box and cover

  • Place of origin:

    Mennecy (made)

  • Date:

    c. 1760 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Mennecy porcelain factory (manufacturer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Soft-paste porcelain painted with enamels and with silver mount

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Mr John George Joicey

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 2, The Wolfson Gallery, case CA2 []

Situated to the south of Paris, Mennecy was no more than a village when in 1749 François Barbin and his wife bought a piece of land there in order to establish a porcelain factory. Barbin had had a long career trying to perfect his porcelain production. He was recorded in Paris conducting experiments in the rue de Charonne in the late 1720s and set up a small faïence and earthenware factory under the protection of the duc de Villeroy in the grounds of the château of Villeroy in the 1730s. In 1741 a new royal porcelain factory was established at Vincennes and given a monopoly to produce painted and gilded porcelain. Two royal decrees issued in 1748 and 1749 effectively put a stop to production at Villeroy, a development which prompted the Barbins' move to Mennecy. The new establishment still operated under the protection of the duc de Villeroy and many of the factory's products bear the impressed or painted mark 'DV' for Duché de Villeroy.

Barbin's son, Jean-Baptiste took over the direction of the factory in 1762, but unfortunately he died only a few weeks after his father in 1765, deeply in debt. Production continued however, as the factory was leased from Barbin's widow by Joseph Jullien and Symphorien Jacques of the nearby porcelain factory at Sceaux. After the lease expired in 1773 the factory closed and Jullien and Jacques transferred production to Bourg-la-Reine.

The porcelain made at Mennecy is soft-paste and lacks the bright white body of true porcelains made in Asia and at Meissen. The colouring is subtle and characterised by a good range of pink tones and other colours which were used to great effect in the flower painting found on many Mennecy wares. As well as table wares and figures, trinkets such as snuff and patch boxes were made in large numbers by the factory. These were made in many different forms, including baskets of flowers, individual flowers and fruits, figures, animals, miniature furniture and even Sedan chairs. Pug dogs in porcelain were a speciality of the Meissen factory and this model derives loosely from a Meissen shape.

Physical description

Snuff-box and cover of soft-paste porcelain painted with enamels and with a hinged silver mount. Formed as a pug dog.

Place of Origin

Mennecy (made)


c. 1760 (made)


Mennecy porcelain factory (manufacturer)

Materials and Techniques

Soft-paste porcelain painted with enamels and with silver mount

Marks and inscriptions

Mount bears discharge marks for 1775-1781.


Height: 41 mm, Length: 59 mm, Depth: 40 mm

Object history note

A wide range of snuff and patch boxes were produced by the Mennecy factory. According to Aileen Dawson (see below) there were 'many with moulded basketwork decoration, or covers moulded with animals, especially dogs...' While no snuff boxes are included in the Boone or British Museum catalogues, Beaucamp-Markowsky includes a wide range, nos. 411-447, among which are three with dog subjects, although not this model. No. 421 is modelled as two pug dogs playing while no. 422 is modelled as the head of a pug. The Meissen model from which this shape may ultimately have been the source for this box is illustrated by Beaucamp-Markowsky, cat. no. 187, p 235. The author cites J. J. Kändler's workbook for 1741 which lists two different models of snuff boxes in the form of a pug dog executed for His Excellency Count von Brühl in June and August of that year. This box may however have been copied from a St Cloud version of the same model, rather than directly from a Meissen original.

Descriptive line

Snuff-box and cover of soft-paste porcelain painted with enamels, Mennecy porcelain factory, Mennecy, about 1760.

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

Daily Pleasures French Ceramics from the MaryLou Boone Collection, exhibition catalogue, 2012. Los Angeles Country Museum of Art, October 2012- March 2013, catalogue editor Elizabeth A. Williams, with contributions by Meredith Chilton, Antoinette Fäy-Hallé, Catherine Hess, Victoria Kastner and Elizabeth A. Williams. See pp.231-232 for a useful overview of the Villeroy-Mennecy factories.
Aileen Dawson, French Porcelain, A Catalogue of The British Museum Collection, British Museum Press, 1994. See pp 51-52 for a detailed brief history of the Mennecy factory.
Barbara Beaucamp-Markowsky. Boïtes en Porcelaine des manufactures européennes au 18e siècle, Office du Livre, Fribourg, Switzerland, 1985, translated from the original German by Tamara Préaud

Production Note

Mount datable to 1775-1781, the porcelain earlier


Soft paste porcelain; Silver


Painted; Mounted

Subjects depicted

Dog; Flowers


Ceramics; Porcelain


Ceramics Collection

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