The Treaty of Paris (252 years today)


Furniture, Textiles & Fashion
February 10, 2015

Today in 1763, the Treaty of Paris, also known as the Treaty of 1763, was signed.

The Treaty was made between the kingdoms of Great Britain, France and Spain, with Portugal in agreement, following Britain’s victory over France and Spain during the Seven Years’ War.

This enamelled copper snuffbox is an example of political propaganda produced during the Seven Years’ War (1756-63), with the major areas of the conflict in central Europe mapped on the outside.

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Rectangular snuffbox decorated with maps. Enamel, copper and gilt metal. Jordan Scheydl and Charles Beduzzi, probably Vienna, probably Berlin, ca. 1757. V&A LOAN:GILBERT.506-2008

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The Seven Years War (1756-63) was triggered by the disputed sovereignty of Silesia, which is depicted on a map on the base inside the box.

CIS:Loan:Gilbert.503-2008
The interior shows the Gulf of Bengal, Ceylon and the Malabar and Coromandel coasts. In the bottom you can see a map of Silesia and Poland

The duchy of Silesia had become Prussian territory during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48) when King Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712-86) defeated Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.

Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, as depicted on a porcelain dish produced by the Worcester porcelain factory, Worcester, 1757. V&A 414:505-1885
Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, as depicted on a porcelain dish produced by the Worcester porcelain factory, Worcester, 1757. V&A 414:505-1885

All major European powers of the time became involved:  Prussia, Great Britain and Hanover opposed Austria and its main allies, France, Russia, Sweden and Spain. Colonial interests outside Europe led to an escalation of the war into what might be considered the first global conflict.

The cover, walls, base and interior of the snuffbox are painted with maps of Dresden and Saxony, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Bavaria, from Lake Constance to the Netherlands and along the coast of Denmark to the Baltic.

The allies around Prussia, including Hanover, are prominently placed on the top, while Austria is shown fragmented at the margins.
The allies around Prussia, including Hanover, are prominently placed on the lid of the box, while Austria is shown fragmented at the margins
The base is decorated with a map of North America.
The base, decorated with a map of the French territories in Canada

One side of the box is inscribed with the names of Charles Beduzzi and Jordan Scheydl.

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Signed: ‘Tiree de la Grande Carte Universelle et decine en petit par Charles Beduzzi Ingenier et Architect L’année 1757 Peint par Jordan Scheydl’

The box appears to be a souvenir celebrating Prussian supremacy and the successful campaigns of 1757, when the Prussian Army won two important battles at Rossbach (Germany) and Leuthen (present day Poland). It was possibly made in Berlin, which was a centre of the production of enamel boxes.

The Museum holds another (double) snuffbox with similar decoration, which also thought to have been made in Berlin. The maps decorating this box detail the geographical situation at the second year of the Seven Year’s War struggle for territory between Prussia and Austria.

Double snuffbox with both cover and lid hinged to open, made of copper painted overall in opaque enamels with maps of Germany showing various  troop movements, one dated October 1756.
Double snuffbox with both cover and lid hinged to open, made of copper painted overall in opaque enamels with maps of Germany showing various troop movements, one dated October 1756. Enamel on copper, gilt copper. Possibly Berlin, ca.1757. V&A LOAN:GILBERT.506-2008

Both of these boxes are part of the Gilbert Collection – one of the world’s great decorative art collections, formed by Sir Arthur Gilbert (1913-2001) and his wife Rosalinde (1913-1995). The collection is on long-term loan to the V&A and the rectangular snuffbox will feature in the new Europe Galleries.

The maps painted on the boxes are not only an example of political propaganda but also demonstrate the 18th century trend for decorating snuffboxes with the appearance of other everyday objects, such as letters.

Example of a snuffbox decorated as a sealed letter. The inscription translates as ''To the most faithful, wherever she is found.' Gold, porcelain. Meissen, ca. 1755. V&A LOAN:GILBERT.501-2008
Example of a snuffbox decorated as a sealed letter. The inscription translates as ”To the most faithful, wherever she is found.’ Gold, porcelain. Meissen, ca. 1755. V&A LOAN:GILBERT.501-2008

This aspect of the box will be explored further in the Europe Galleries, where it will form part of a display about ‘Accessories’. This display is concerned with the 18th century popularity for accessories such as fans, swords, handkerchiefs and snuffboxes – their use as conversation pieces; a means of non-verbal communication; and also their role as diplomatic gifts and tokens of friendship or love.

About the author


Furniture, Textiles & Fashion
February 10, 2015

I am an Assistant Curator working on the development of the new Europe 1600-1800 Galleries. My interests are wide-ranging but subjects I have particularly enjoyed exploring for this project include:...

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Comments

What fabulous pieces of craftsmanship! I have always been a fan of vesta cases, have yet to seen any with such map detailing as the above. I can imagine when smoking was at its peak that these items were considered a must, especially for the gents.

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