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This male accessory was particularly popular in the eighteenth century when the use of snuff was very fashionable. The little boxes were often decorated by artists and were a sign of affluence. Sometimes they were also used to pass on secret messages to a lover. The way you handled the box conveyed a particular intention or request.

The royals regularly gave official-type gifts in recognition of services rendered. This snuffbox was a gift from King William I to Jean van Hal for the part he played in having Peter Paul Rubens’ paintings returned to Antwerp in 1815. These artworks had been seized during French rule twenty years earlier and, very much against the wishes of the people of Antwerp, taken to Paris.

DIVA versus the Gilbert Collection

Thanks to the Pierre Lunden Bequest, DIVA has in its possession a gold snuffbox made in Paris in 1739-1740 by Pierre Croissant (active 1721-1747) to a design by Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier (1695-1750). Meissonnier’s rococo models were eagerly used as source of inspiration and copied in printed form and in silver, in England as well as on the European mainland.
Leading exponents of the English rococo included the Huguenot Samuel Courtauld (1720-1765). His chocolate pot dating from 1750-1751 is a textbook example. Arthur Gilbert purchased it in 1985.

Admire the chocolate pot from the Gilbert Collection here: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O156313/chocolate-pot-courtauld-samuel/#