Snuff box reputed to be that of Mayer Amschel Rothschild
The taking of snuff saw a dramatic increase at the beginning of the 18th century. In the collections of the London bank at New Court is a Louis XV lacquer Chinoiserie snuff box, reputedly owned by Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) and given by him to his son Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836), in about 1758 (RAL 000/2494). The snuff box was presented to Anthony de Rothschild (1887-1961) by the Earl of Rosebery in 1951. A manuscript inscription inside the lid reads: 'Given in June 1951 to Anthony de Rothschild A Grandson of Lionel de Rothschild, by the Earl of Rosebery, A grandson of Mayer de Rothschild. Lionel and Mayer were sons of Nathan Mayer' and a manuscript inscription inside base reads 'The box was worn by the later Meyer Amschel Rothschild of Frankfurt a/M [am Main] who died there December 1812. Peace to him Amen, Amen. Given to J M Samuel by his son Nathan Mayer Rothschild soon after his father's death'. The snuff box was for many years displayed at New Court.
Collections of Ferdinand de Rothschild
The collection of snuff boxes of Ferdinand de Rothschild (1838-1898) was consistent with his passion for the French decorative arts of the period. He may also have been inspired to build on a collection begun by his father, Anselm, from whom Ferdinand inherited six very fine boxes decorated by the van Blarenberghes, a Dutch family who worked in France.
Purchasing mainly through London dealers, he acquired many more boxes with van Blarenberghe illustrations. Two of these represent the unveiling of the equestrian statue on the Place Louis XV (now the Place de la Concorde) in 1763, which are recognised as masterpieces. The van Blarenberghe snuffboxes were remarkable for their high level of detail, often including hundreds, sometimes thousands of figures in one scene. Among them were contemporary events, country and port scenes, moral tales and scenes from popular operas and plays of the day.
Collections of Alice von Rothschild
Alice von Rothschild (1847-1922) continued her brother Ferdinand's collection of snuff boxes when she inherited his house at Waddesdon, adding eight more decorated by the van Blarenberghes, and two in semi-precious stone in the form of pug dogs, reflecting her liking for these dogs. She also acquired a snuff box on the top of which was a Sèvres porcelain plaque painted with two dogs which belonged to Mme de Pompadour.