Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: rococo
© 1979 RMN
18th century: rococo
Entirely made of gold, decorated with enamel and diamonds, this snuffbox is the oldest in the Louvre, and one of the rare diplomatic snuffboxes that has been preserved. Inside the lid are two miniatures depicting Louis XV and Maria Leczinska. In 1726, Louis XV gave this work by the goldsmith Daniel Govaers to Baron Cornelis Hop, ambassador of Holland (1685-1762).
An ornate exterior
Rectangular in shape, with rounded corners, this snuffbox is decorated with black tortoiseshell on the lid and the underside. The tortoiseshell on the lid is flecked with gold and decorated with a canopy motif, in the center of which is a chased and black-enameled gold rosette. The lower plaque is decorated with a tortoise between two leafy branches. The contour is enameled in relief, showing a garland of white flowers with red highlights and translucent green leaves. This garland stands out against a sanded-gold ground. The clasp is adorned with "rose-cut" diamonds. Govaers was one of the most highly esteemed goldsmiths of the early 18th century; on this snuffbox may be admired his refined chasing and the high quality of his settings for the precious stones.
On the inside: likenesses of Louis XV and Maria Leczinska
Inside the lid, under crystal, are two half-length portraits: the young Louis XV, wearing a breastplate and a cloak of fleur-de-lis ermine, and Maria Leczinska wearing a gold diadem. These likenesses of Louis XV and Maria Leckzinska, represented here in their youth (they were married on September 5, 1725), may be attributed to Jean-Baptiste Massé (1687-1767), painter in miniature to the king and supplier of "Gifts of the King." The painter here achieved a work of exceptional quality, reproducing in reverse the engravings of Nicolas IV de Larmessin, after the portraits by Jean-Baptiste Van Loo (1684-1745). These pictures were also reproduced on a snuffbox conserved in the Hermitage Museum at Saint Petersburg. Another, bearing only the likeness of Louis XV, is also conserved in the Louvre.
A diplomatic gift
It is known that on February 3, 1726, this work was offered by Louis XV to the baron Cornelis Hop, ambassador of Holland (1685-1762). This snuffbox is thus one of the rare diplomatic snuffboxes that remains. Govaers was favored very early by the patronage of the young Louis XV and the Royal Court. Between 1725 and 1736, he supplied many snuffboxes to the service of the "Gifts of the King" that Louis XV was to offer as diplomatic gifts, as was the case for this snuffbox in the Louvre with the portraits of Louis XV and Maria Leczinska.
BibliographyS. Grandjean, Les Tabatières du musée du Louvre, Paris, Éditions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 1981, pp. 110-111
Daniel GOVAERS (master in Paris in 1717)
Gold, tortoise-shell, diamonds
H. 3 cm; L. 8.50 cm; W. 6.50 cm
Acquired in 1978 , 1978
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