A Chinese Gold Snuff Box
Bao Ying, Canton, circa 1790
Rectangular with canted corners, the base, cover and sides applied with gold filigree panels centering flowers, marked on base. Length 3 1/8 inches, approximately 82 dwts.
Chinese gold snuff boxes are rare, and those worked in filigree and marked are even more so. While works in silver and silver gilt filigree were more typical, they were still exclusive, finding their way into European royal and noble collections. The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg holds a silver-gilt dresser set that belonged to Catherine the Great. Other works were in the collection of Queen Charlotte and the Prussian Royal family.
Some of the finest filigree pieces are marked or attributed to Bao Ying, the maker of this gold box, who worked in Canton in the late 18th/early 19th century. A pair of urns and stands marked by Boa Ying and was sold Christie's, London, June 2008, lot 174. The vases feature a variation on the distinctive quatre-lobed flower as seen on this box. Most others filigree works that feature the lobed flower are unmarked. They include five caskets from the Catherine the Great toilet set now in the Hermitage, Collection; a silver filigree casket, sold Christie's New York, 18 May 2011, lot 171; a pair of vases, sold Drewatts, 26 February, 2014, lot 80; and a pair urns illustrated in Adrien von Ferscht, Chinese Export Silver 1785-1940, 2105. To date, this box is the only known example of the group made in gold and stamped with the Bao Ying mark.
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