Enamelled gold snuffbox for Baron Nicolaus von Korff
Gold and enamel
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.344-2008
A Russian gold snuffbox that is attributed to the celebrated Swiss craftsman Jean-Pierre Ador who immigrated to Russia in 1760. It has a grand flowing style and 'crisp' enamelling, a process using coloured powdered glass, where each colour is applied separately then heated in a kiln to fuse it to the surface before the next layer is applied.
The box was made for Baron Nicolaus von Korff (1710-1766) who was the archetypal eighteenth century soldier of fortune. Each side is decorated with engraved sunbursts around an enamelled order or coat of arms recording his commendable military career.
Korff was commissioned into the Russian army at the age of just fourteen, later rising to a position in the imperial guard. In 1742 he received the Order of Saint Anne (depicted on the left side of the box), followed two years later by the Order of Alexander Nevsky (on the right side). During the Seven Years' War, Korff was established as provincial governor of parts of Prussia for which he was invested with the Polish Order of the White Eagle (on the back). He received the Order of Saint Andrew (on the cover) and the Prussian Order of the Black Eagle (on the front) in 1762.
It is interesting to note that Korff's coat of arms appears on the base rather than the cover of the box. It may be a bit of modesty to balance the many honourable orders displayed on the other sides of the box.