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Story behind the januaryauction

daniel govaers (or gouers)

This auction we have a unique 18th century gold snuff box from the Dutch goldsmith Daniël Govers (or Gouers).

The use of snuff only became fashionable in France after the death in 1715 of Louis XIV, who was known to have disapproved of the practice. By the time this gold box was produced, taking snuff was an important and elaborate social ritual. Not only were there etiquette rules for it, but the boxes that contained the tobacco powder became highly desirable and visible accessories, serving as statements about both one's tastes and one's financial status. When Hester Thrale visited Paris from England with her good friend Samuel Johnson, she wrote: 'We went nowhere today but to the Great Toy Shop called Petit Dunkerque; I bought some trinkets, and desired a snuff-box of exquisite beauty.' Boxes were produced at all levels of artistic skill and cost. Only the very rich could afford gold caskets, and gold caskets set with diamonds, like this one, were the most expensive of all.

Boxes with significant fees often served as a discreet payment method, as the recipient had the option to return the box to the jeweler who sold it and exchange it for cash. Gold boxes were commonly given by the French monarch as a reward for services to his court, and the value of the box depended on the status of the person receiving it and the level of service rendered. Foreign ambassadors regularly received expensive gold chests from the king.

This box is a particularly elaborate one and bears the mark of Daniel Gouers (also known as Govaers), one of the most prominent goldsmiths of the early eighteenth century, who wrote "Gouers a Paris" on the ring. The box is an early example of the rococo style, seen here in the prominent use of abstract scroll motifs, the asymmetry of the central decoration on the lid and the undulating profile of the box's shape.

Source: The Met Museum

JANUARy auction:


th. 11 JANUAry: start 10:00

fR. 12 JANUARy: start 10:00

sA. 13 JANUARy: start 09:00

viewing days:

06 JANUARy: 10:00 - 17:00

07 JANUARy: 11:00 - 17:00

08 JANUARy: 10:00 - 18:00

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