A Meissen box with a portrait of Stanislaw Augustus II circa 1765
Lot 15
A Meissen gold-mounted rectangular snuff box with a portrait of Stanislaw Augustus II Poniatowski, King of Poland, circa 1766
Sold for £14,400 (US$ 24,189) inc. premium
Lot Details
A Meissen gold-mounted rectangular snuff box with a portrait of Stanislaw Augustus II Poniatowski, King of Poland, circa 1766
The exterior, painted by Joseph Anibal Heße, with vignettes depicting putti and geniuses with emblems of Fame, the Sciences and the Arts among clouds, the inside cover superbly painted by Johann Jacob Wagner with a half-length portrait of Stanislaw Augustus II Poniatowski, the gold mounts with a floral thumbpiece in three colours of gold, with hallmarks for Lemberg (Austria-Hungary) for 1806-07, 8.1cm wide, 4.5cm high


  • Provenance:
    Anon. sale, Christie's Geneva, 9 May 1983, lot 98

    Beaucamp-Markowsky 1985, no. 106;
    Beaucamp-Markowsky 1988, no. 35

    Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum, 1983-2003;
    London, Gilbert Collection, Somerset House, 2003-2008;
    Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, The Bowes Museum, 2008-2010

    The work reports for the painter, Joseph Anibal Heße, record in April 1766: 'Eine Zeichnung die freyen Künste auf eine Tabattiere...' [a drawing of the Liberal Arts on a snuff box]. Johann Jacob Wagner is recorded as having worked on '1 portrait of the King of Poland' in July and August of 1766, and on at least two others between August and November 1766. In August 1766, Heße continued work on a snuff box painted by Wagner with a portrait.

    Johann Jacob Wagner (1709/10-97) was employed at the Meissen manufactory in December 1738. He was one of the most talented painters employed at Meissen and quickly specialised in miniature painting and snuff boxes. In 1749, Wagner's particular talent for portrait painting was mentioned by J.G. Höroldt (Rückert 1990, p. 290).

    Stanislaw Augustus II Poniatowsky (1732-98) was elected King of Poland following the death of the Saxon Elector, Friedrich Christian, in 1764. He secured the throne with the help of his former lover, the Russian Empress, Catherine the Great. Poniatowski had met the then wife of Grand Duke Peter in 1755, when he accompanied Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, formerly the British Envoy to Saxony and newly appointed Ambassador to Russia, as the latter's Attaché. Poniatowski was forced to leave St. Petersburg in 1758, following accusations that he and the future Empress has conspired against the Empress Elizabeth. Following the death of Elizabeth and her son, Czar Peter III, Catherine ruled alone and secured Poniatowski's election to the Polish throne. Poniatowski may well have become familiar with Meissen porcelain through Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, who received lavish gifts of porcelain from Augustus III, as well as placing orders for porcelain for his friends in Great Britain.
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