Jean-Joseph Barrière, Paris, flange number 1046, 65 x 50 x 31 mm, 114 g, circa 1772
An exquisite, extremely rare gold enamel snuff box "The Reader"
Case: 22K gold, maker's punch mark "JJB" (Jean-Joseph Barrière), charge mark Julien Alaterre (1768-1775), discharge mark "small cow" for gold exported from Paris, probably 1733-1774; Parisian guild punch mark "I" for the years 1772-1773.
Oval box, lid, side and base panels with in translucent steel grey enameling over rippled engine turned pattern. Hinged lid with central oval enamel plaque, "en grisaille" painting showing a lady and Cupid against a pink coloured background, in a border of white enamel dots in the form of pearls. Two-colour gold frame with chased scrolls, flowers and garlands.
Jean-Joseph Barrière was apprenticed to Charles-Nicolas-Loys Dumoussay in October 1750 and became a master in January 1763; his sponsor was Henri Delobel. Records reveal the increasing quantities of gold used by Barrière from the mid 1770s on, giving an indication of his developing business; this success is also evident from the number of snuff boxes that still exist today with his maker s mark that date from this time. Barrière's work was admired by his contemporaries: the magnificent collection of snuff boxes owned by Furst Carl Anselm von Thurn und Taxis contained eight boxes from his workshop, see Lorenz Seelig, "Golddosen des 18. Jahrhunderts aus dem Besitz der Fursten von Thurn und Taxis", Munich, 2007. Other pieces by Jean-Joseph Barrière are held in the Louvre and in the Wallace Collection (see "The Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Gold Boxes" by Charles Truman, London 2013, pages 180-182, fig. 44; 192-193, fig. 49 and page 218, fig. 60.).
Jean-Joseph Barrière obviously marked his boxes with a numbering system but did not use it for all his pieces. A box dating from 1768/69 in the Louvre bears the number 645. Another in the Wallace Collection dating from 1770/71 is marked with 771. Two others, also in the Louvre, are numbered 1015 (dating from 1772/73) and 1509 (dating from 1775/76). The numbers indicate a chronological order – the two boxes we have here date from 1772 and 1775 and bear the numbers 1046 and 1327. However, the numbers seem too far apart to suggest a strict continuity in the production. It is also possible that the numbering corresponds to individual patterns or designs.
Case: very good