A snuffbox from the Empress Josephine

On 20 February 2020, by Claire Papon

Given to the Comte de Barral by the Empress, this snuffbox promises to be the most sought-after in a collection of gold boxes.

Gold snuffbox with blue enamel, hallmark of Gabriel Raoul Morel (1764-1832), decorated with a miniature of the Empress Josephine by Paul Louis Quaglia (1780-1833).
Estimate: €60,000/80,000

A brilliant victory deserves a lavish present... This one, entirely in chased gold set off by two blue enamel fillets, sports a portrait of the Empress. It may have been a gift from Napoleon or bought by Josephine, an avid collector who spent a substantial amount on jewellery, despite having the use of the crown jewels. Her collection included diamond and cameo tiaras, emerald and amethyst sets and earrings in pearls or sapphires, which she bought from Mellerio and Nitot, the Emperor's official supplier (now known as Chaumet). The artist behind this miniature was Paul Louis Quaglia (1780-1853), who was born in Piacenza, Italy, and moved to Paris in 1805. This snuffbox in gold chased with foliage bears the hallmark (his initials and an ear in a lozenge) of Gabriel-Raoul Morel (1764-1832), who specialised in producing gold boxes for leading jewellers. In the early 19th century, Napoleon I's coronation relaunched a taste for snuffboxes, and the official gift department revived the customs of the former court, which involved making presents of these objects decorated with the sovereigns' portraits. A little later, these exquisite boxes were used as gifts for members of the imperial family, as rewards for princes and marshals, or to commemorate a major event. They were presented in gilded leather cases, like the one here. Josephine gave this snuffbox to one of her cousins, Amédée François Joseph Hippolyte, Count of Barral (1787-1856), to celebrate the victory at Austerlitz. A masterpiece of military strategy, this battle took place on 2 December 1805: the first anniversary of Napoleon I's coronation.

Back to nature

On 25 February 2020, by Claire Papon

Combining spontaneity and sophistication, this work by Léonard Foujita reflects his love for the worlds of childhood and nature.

Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968), Fillette au jardin, lys et liserons (Little Girl in a Garden, Lilies and Morning Glories), oil on canvas, ca. 1960, 35 x 24 cm. 
Estimate: €60,000/80,000

If there is one artist whose prices have not been affected by the crisis, it is Foujita. The large white nudes and Madonnas standing out against a golden background regularly break records, but our painting is appealing for its small dimensions and, above all, the dainty little girl caught by surprise amidst flowers. Foujita held the Impressionists in high regard and was steeped in Western painting and culture, especially that of the Renaissance. Born into a samurai family in Japan, he arrived in Paris in 1913 and soon became an eccentric figure in bohemian Montparnasse. After travelling to South America and Japan, he returned to France. In 1961, he settled in the countryside near Villiers-le-Bâcle and shared an idyllic old age with his Japanese companion in contact with nature. When he converted to Catholicism in October 1959, he took the first name Léonard in honour of the Italian master. Our painting, signed "l.Foujita", was made in the early 1960s.

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