This important German porcelain snuff box exhibits delightful artistry and craftsmanship. Hand-painted classical tableau celebrating the exalted disciplines of art, architecture, music and astronomy adorn every surface of the small container, while gilt mounting beautifully complements the vibrant colors and intricate details.
3 3/8” wide x 2 9/16” deep x 1 5/8” high
Manufacturers of snuff boxes, as makers of one of the most fashionable luxury items during the 16th and 17th centuries, were regarded as artists. Master artisans created and designed these elegant little boxes using fine metals, numerous rare and beautiful woods, porcelain, ivory, tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, precious gems and other luxurious materials. They were among a gentleman's most expensive and elegant personal effects, and soon became collector's items. Wealthy and fashionable men would have a fair number of them and often offered them as gifts. The finer examples such as this are most desirable.
The taking of snuff was a highly regarded social ritual among the European elite. With notable exception, snuff and other forms of tobacco were condemned by such personages as King James I of England, who wrote a famous counterblast against the herb, and Czar Michael of Russia, who decreed in 1634 that snuff takers were to have their noses cut off. However, popularity of snuffing flourished, thanks to the curious habit of sneezing that rose among the privileged classes. Only the rich and idle, so it was believed, had the time to sneeze or could afford snuff. Sneezing became part of conversation. One sneezed as punctuation, to show disinterest, boredom or disapproval. As a result, anything "not to be sneezed at" was considered worthwhile.