The Wallace Collection

Snuffbox, Jean Ducrollay, 1743-44
Snuffbox, Jean Ducrollay, 1743-44
Works of Art

Several diverse groups of decorative art objects are included within this area of the Collection. They include gold boxes and goldsmiths’ work, silver and base metalwork, jewellery, enamels, glass, hardstone carvings and illuminated manuscript cuttings.

Most of the gold boxes in the Wallace Collection were made in Paris during the eighteenth century and most were used to contain snuff. Of exquisite workmanship, they share the elaborate richness and innovative design of the larger-scale French eighteenth-century art in the Collection, but on an intimate and jewel-like scale.

There is an extensive and varied collection of precious (gold and silver) and base (e.g. copper) metalwork, ranging in date from the medieval period to the nineteenth century. Highlights include the Irish Bell Shrine of St Mura, a fine Jacobean English steeple-cup and an exquisite link from a gold collar of the Légion d'Honneur. The small collection of illustrations cut from manuscripts include French, Netherlandish and Italian works. There are around sixty pieces of glass in the Collection and thirty French Renaissance enamels, including a portrait of Marguerite de France as Minerva from 1555, the only fully signed work by Jean de Court.

The representative collection of jewellery includes a number of Renaissance and 17th-century pieces, as well as others made in the nineteenth-century in Renaissance style. Reflecting as it does Continental rather than English taste, this part of the Collection includes many works of great rarity in British collections, such as a superb bowl (tazza) carved from smoky quartz, made for the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II by Giovanni Ambrogio Miseroni.

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