Jean-Joseph Barrière, Paris, flange number 1327, 75 x 55 x 22 mm, 113 g, circa 1775
An exquisite, extremely rare two-colour gold snuff box with polychrome enamel miniature "Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi"
Case: 22K gold, maker's punch mark "JJB" (Jean-Joseph Barrière), charge and discharge mark Jean-Baptiste Fouache (1775-1781), Parisian guild punch mark "L" for the years 1774-1775, two later Parisian punch marks for gold 1838-1846.
Oval box, two-colour gold decoration; the cover, side and base panels geometrically and florally engraved and chased. The hinged cover centred with an oval enamel plaque depicting Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi.
This box is illustrated and described in "Tabatières" by Solange de Plas, Paris 1974, page 36; it was part of the Kugel Collection.
Jean-Joseph Barrière was apprenticed to Charles-Nicolas-Loys Dumoussay in October 1750; in January 1763 he became a master, sponsored by Henri Delobel. Records reveal the increasing quantities of gold used by Barrière from the mid 1770s, an apparent indication of his developing business, which is further endorsed by the number of extant snuff boxes with his maker s mark dating from this time. Barrière's work was admired by his contemporaries: the Louvre owns ten examples of his work; in the magnificent collection of snuff boxes formed by Furst Carl Anselm von Thurn und Taxis there were 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