An English enamel and gilt-metal Snuff Box, London, circa 1760

The domed white enamel cover of this attractive circular snuff box is painted with a large spray of flowers and two winged insects. The ogee side of the box is painted with a brightly-coloured bird in flight and two floral sprays. The underside of the box is painted with a colourful butterfly. The interior is decorated with white enamel, the base with a design of interlinked scrolls arranged in a circle.

The bird on the side of the box relates to the so-called ‘Fancy Bird’ decoration found on Chelsea porcelain of the 1750s, which itself had been directly influenced by Meissen chinoiserie decoration from the 1730s and ’40s.

Condition: The colourful painted decoration is in excellent order. The cover has very faint traces of a narrow border design and a shell motif beside the thumbpiece. There are also three faint decorative motifs between the bird and the two floral sprays around the side of the box. The cover has a few cracks and a small, flat chip to the white enamel. The underside of the cover has a few typical fine cracks and also a tiny chip close to the mount. There are a few faint hairlines and one or two tiny chips to the side of the box which are covered by the mount and only visible from the inside. The interior base shows some discolouration, likely to be from the copper body beneath the enamel. There is some patination to the metal mounts, although much of the original gilt remains. The hinged mechanism works well and the cover closes neatly. No restoration or overpainting.

Dimensions: Diameter (at cover) 6 cm; Diameter (at base) 5.8 cm; Height (to top of domed cover) 2.9 cm

English Painted Enamels, Therle and Bernard Hughes (Country Life, 1951).

English Porcelain and Enamels 1743-1775, Simon Spero (exhibition catalogue, 2009).

English Enamel Boxes, Susan Benjamin (Macdonald Orbis, 1988).