For the International Day of Jeweler: snuffboxes with the portraits of the Bonaparte dynasty representatives (video)

On the eve of the International Day of the Jeweler, which is celebrated on the last day of January, we present a newvideo about exquisite snuffboxes  with the portraits of representatives of the Bonaparte dynasty. The miniatures feature Napoleon I Bonaparte and Empress Josephine, Jerome Bonaparte, King of Westphalia, Caroline Bonaparte, Queen of Naples in 1808-1815 and her husband Joachim-Napoléon Murat, Marshal of France. The French portrait painter and miniaturist Jean-Baptiste Isabey, the court painter of Napoleon I depicted them. He often accompanied the emperor in campaigns to paint him in various scenes, including the military ones. After the overthrow of Napoleon, Jean-Baptiste Isabey worked at the Court of the Bourbons.

In the 18th -19th centuries, France led the production of high-quality luxury goods. Parisian goldsmiths made a wide range of small, personal articles such as snuffboxes; étuis to hold sealing wax, tweezers, or utensils for sewing; souvenirs, which contained thin ivory tablets for note taking; and shuttles for knotting lace. Gold snuffboxes and boxes decorated with portrait miniatures were prized and frequently given as royal gifts, often to ambassadors or members of the court in lieu of cash payments for their services. Coveted and admired, these boxes were produced from a variety of materials. The best were skillfully made of gold and embellished with diamonds, enameled decoration, lacquer, and other luxurious materials. By the middle of the century, the taking of snuff had become an entrenched social ritual, and the snuffbox, too, had become an important social prop. Snuffboxes were considered highly fashionable accessories, with some merchants advertising new boxes with each change of season. The popularity of snuffboxes extended to all levels of society, and for those who could not afford gold, boxes were produced in less expensive materials such as silver, tortoiseshell or porcelain.

You can learn more about the collection of snuffboxes and cigarette cases in the section Decorative Arts and Jewelry” on the museum Collection" website.