Tobacco box, sheet and cast brass

Tobacco box, sheet and cast brass

Tobacco Box

Sheet and cast brass, engraved
The Netherlands, 1690-1700
Gurney Bequest

This tobacco box contains several compartments all exquisitely engraved with scenes illustrating the virtues of a sober family life. Inside the lid a woman is depicted committing adultery in full view of her husband. An inscription in Dutch translates as, 'How can a young woman bully an old man? Another makes the baby and I like a mother rock the cradle'.

Another compartment is engraved with a husband and wife at odds and the inscription 'I have an old husband who gives me no pleasure, but Venus manages the business so that I have no reason to complain'. The base has a false bottom. Its lid depicts a happy family, with the inscription, 'One finds nothing so sweet in fidelity as love between a man and wife',

The two exterior faces show scenes from classical mythology promoting selfless dedication: Aeneas escaping burning Troy with his father Anchises, and Alexander visiting Diogenes.