Snuff box

Caja de rapé

This box was designed to hold powdered tobacco for sniffing - snuff - hence the name “snuffbox”, although in South America they were called cajetas or cajetillas. Its format and size indicate it was probably designed for a gentleman, as snuffboxes for ladies were generally round and decorated with enamel and gems. The piece is Baroque in style, and therefore can be reliably dated to 1700-1725, in line with its naturalistic decoration in which the plant motifs, with undulating movement and symmetrical distribution, are flat rather than embossed.Salto de línea The central scallop shells motif on the lid recalls other known examples from the area of Potosí and Chuquisaca (Sucre), leading us to classify this as also from the southern Bolivian workshops. It can be compared to four well-known cajetas: one belonging to the Apelles collection (from Chile), another to a Spanish private collection (these two were exhibited in Madrid in 1997), a third to the former Costa du Rels collection (from Sucre), and a fourth from the galleon Nuestra Señora de la Luz, sunk off Montevideo on 2 July, 1752 (and auctioned by Sotheby's, New York in March 1993, Lot 249). Salto de línea If the ownership of the piece were known, it would be easier to identify to whom the coat of arms depicted on the reverse belongs, which is still undetermined. This pointed shield, with cut mantling, features the image of a gate on a crenellated wall (castle), on which a warrior with a spear in his left hand appears, flanked by two fleurs de lis in the corners. Salto de línea

Cistina Esteras Martín