A pair of Dutch silver casters
Maker’s mark: GT in oval, for Gregorius van der Toorn (active The Hague, 1738-1770) Town mark: a stork…
A silver-gilt and mother of pearl snuff box, set with two miniatures by Louis-Nicolas van Blarenberghe (1716 Lille – Fontainebleau 1794), the inside cover mounted with a portrait medallion in profile of Stadtholder Prince William IV, by Jeremias Stagman (1699 Erfurt – Amsterdam 1762).
Box: mother-of-pearl panels set in silver-gilt mounts, gouache on vellum, glass
Portrait: three-colour gold, silver, blue enamel, on silk velvet
The bombé box mounted à cage in silver-gilt with mother of pearl panels, flanked by plain bands at all angles, the top and bottom inset with two painted gouache miniatures by Louis-Nicolas van Blarenberghe, representing the gardens, pond, side-elevation, wind mills and Maison de Trèfle as well as the Turkish Pavilion of the Château de Lunéville, in Lorraine, not far away from Nancy, the cover fitted in stepped reeded mount with rounded angels and stylised scalloped thumbpiece, the inside cover mounted with a medallion depicting a gold portrait in profile to right of Stadtholder Prince William IV, wearing armour with a lion head on the shoulder, the blue sash of the Order of the Garter over his shoulder, made in Amsterdam by the chaser-goldsmith Jeremias Stagman circa 1748-1751.
Both the box and the portrait medallion on the inside cover originally were a royal gift: the box was presented by the King of Poland, Stanislaus Leszczyński, who was the father-in-law of the French king Louis XV. The portrait on the inside lid was presented by the stadtholder, Prince William IV of the Netherlands. Both original objects were given around 1750 to a sole proprietor, who must have assembled the two into one snuff box.
The box, set with two miniatures of the Château de Lunéville, was manufactured in France around 1750. At the time this château was owned by the Polish king, Stanislaus Leszczyński (Lwów 1677 – 1766 Lunéville), who had laid out magnificent gardens when he lived there as the duc de Lorraine. Stanislaus was married to Catharina Opalińska, and their second daughter, Marie, in turn married the French king Louis XV in 1725. The dauphine and later king Louis XVI was therefore Stanislaus’ grandson.
Leszczyński had been king of Poland twice, from 1704 until 1709 and again form 1733 until 1736. The first time he was appointed at the deposition of king Augustus II, the Strong, by king Charles XII of Sweden. In 1709 Charles was defeated by the Russians at the Battle of Poltava and fled to exile in the Ottoman Empire, leaving Stanislaus without any real and stable support. Augustus II regained the Polish throne, and Stanislaus left the country to settle in the French province of Alsace.
When Augustus died in 1733, Stanislaus sought to regain the Polish throne with the help of French support for his candidacy. After travelling to Warsaw in disguise, he was elected king of Poland by an overwhelming majority of the Diet. However, before his coronation, Russia and the Habsburg monarchy, fearing Stanislaus would unite Poland in the Swedish-French alliance, invaded the country to annul his election. Stanislaus was once more deposed, and, under Russian pressure, a small minority in the Diet elected the Saxon elector Frederick Augustus II to the Polish throne as Augustus III. Stanislaus retreated to the city of Danzig (Gdańsk) to wait for French assistance, which did not come. Fleeing before the city fell to its Russian besiegers, he then journeyed to Königsberg (Kaliningrad) in East-Prussia, where he directed guerrilla warfare against the new king and his Russian supporters. The Peace of Vienna in 1738 recognised Augustus III as king of Poland but allowed Stanislaus to keep his royal titles while granting him the provinces of Lorraine and Bar for life.
In Lorraine, Stanislaus proved to be a good administrator and promoted economic development. Despite his political, military and financial patronage he left his mark on Lorraine by his stimulating urban beatification, building of hospitals and libraries and supporting the poor. In Nancy he commissioned the architect Émmanuel Héré to design the still famous Place Royal (now Place Stanislas). The court at Lunéville became famous as a cultural centre and served as the meeting point for all literators and philosophers, among whom Voltaire and Charles de Montesquieu. In 1749 he published a political treatise entitled
Głos wolny wolność ubezpieczający (Free Voice to ensuring Freedom), an outline of his proposed changes in the Polish constitution. Editions of his letters to his daughter Marie, to the kings of Prussia, and to Jacques Hulin, his minister at Versailles, have been published.
King Frederick the Great of Prussia was inspired by Stanislaus’ architect Héré for the building of the Chinese pavilion in Potsdam. It is not quite clear yet how, but at this time and atmosphere Leszczyński must have met Isaac de Pinto and his father, both of whom he visited in Amsterdam.
In the gift registry of the palace of Versailles a number of gold boxes with the representation of the Château de Lunéville by Louis-Nicolas van Blarenberghe are mentioned. Apparently Stanislaus was used to present such boxes when visiting his daughter and son-in-law. In a private collection in France one of these boxes is kept, also set with miniatures depicting scenes from Lunéville.
The Van Blarenberghe family created, in miniature, an unrivalled view of life in 18th century France. Their subjects ranged from peasant games to court life, from châteaux, as in the present box, to the streets of Paris, from battles and precise port views executed by royal command to opera singers and singeries, from reality to the imaginary, but always with tiny added twists of drama or humour that bring something new to each fresh examination of their work. The miniature on the reverse of the box for instance, depicts a gardener picking up leaves from the formal garden to the left of the Turkish Pavilion, located at the south end of the pond.
An exhibition at the Louvre (2006, Les Van Blarenberghe, des reporters du XVIIIe siècle) imaginatively called the Van Blarenberghes, ‘reporters of the 18th century’, but how fortunate we are that they were obliged to paint rather than use cameras. To frame Van Blarenberghe miniatures with exquisite goldwork in a snuff box was the perfect arrangement as the gouache miniatures can be seen at just the right distance, they are protected by their crystal covering and each face of the box can be displayed by the proud owner with the flick of a wrist.
Louis-Nicolas Van Blarenberghe, the artist of the miniatures on this box, was already the third generation of a line of painters born and trained in the Flemish tradition of painting in Lille, a town which had become French in 1668. Fighting came again to the area in the 1740s with the wars of the Austrian Succession but it is not known whether it was this or the early death of his wife the previous year which brought Louis-Nicolas to Paris in 1751. Here his distinctive style soon found favour and patronage from the highest in the land including commissions from the duc de Chevreuse, the duc de Choiseul, the Prince de Condé and Cardinal de Rohan. In 1768 he was commissioned by Catherine the Great to commemorate the installation of the statue of Peter the Great in two large paintings and several snuff boxes and is believed to have travelled to St Petersburg via the Danish court. Louis-Nicolas had already worked for Louis XV but in 1769 was appointed peintre des batailles, an accolade confirmed by Louis XVI who also created him peintre des ports et côtes in 1775.
The miniature on the lid of this box was painted at a time when the Louis-Nicolas was largely concentrating on commissions for snuff boxes from his aristocratic and royal patrons and both miniatures remain a lasting testament to the artist’s reporter’s eye.
The portrait miniature
In the inside cover a gold portrait miniature in profile to right is mounted, representing stadtholder Prince William IV (1711 Leeuwarden -The Hague 1774). It is manufactured by Jeremias Stagman, who originated from Erfurt, Germany and had moved to Amsterdam, where he was active from 1725. He had married Maria Christina Prick, from Düsseldorf, who was the sister of the silversmith Egidius Prick. Stagman had developed a specialty: the production of gold miniature portrait busts. Mainly busts of members of the house of Orange are known, e.g. the Royal Archives in The Hague keep an oval box with a golden miniature of the latest stadtholder, Prince William V on a rearing silver horse, signed by Jeremias Stagman.
Next to the portrait bust of William IV, Stagman also made one of the latter’s wife, Anna of Hanover, as well busts as of Marten Luther and Frederick the Great, according to records in various 19th-centruy sales catalogues. All these miniatures are very rare and sporadically appeared at auction. In an inventory of precious objects owned by William V from 1757, three are listed. These were transferred in 1816 to the then Kabinet van zeldzaamheden (Cabinet of rarities), now collection Rijksmuseum, albeit unfortunately stolen in 1980.
Pairs of portrait busts representing William IV and Anna of Hanover come exactly four times, firstly at a sale of Pieter de Smeth van Alphen in 1810. A second time a pair was sold in 1843, to the Honourable August Pieter Lopez Suasso, whose widow, Mrs Sophia Adriana Lopez Suasso-de Bruijn, also a collector, bequeathed them in 1890 to the Amsterdam city council, who transferred them to the collection of the Amsterdam Museum (inventory nr. KA 3831 and KA 3832).
In 1861 a pair was put up for sale by the Utrecht collector Munniks van Cleef. In 1870 this pair again appeared at auction. The detailed description clarifies that it concerns a pair that is nearly identical to the pair in the Amsterdam Museum. Teylers Museum Haarlem holds one in their medal collection. The Loo Palace at Apeldoorn owns a pair since 1977, acquired at a sale in New York. Finally there is a pair in the collection of Amerongen Castle, presumably a gift from William IV to baron Bentinck.
All miniatures show great resemblance, however, they are differently finished. On the cartouches mostly a text is engraved, in the one at Teylers Museum an In Memoriam, in the Loo pair a Latin spell referring to peace, possibly related to the Peace Treaty of Aachen. The pair in Amerongen lack an inscription. The bust in the present box is supported by a pedestal flanked by volutes, in which a basket of fruit is engraved.
These very expensive gifts were probably commissioned to Stagman by the Stadtholder to serve as an extraordinary, personal gift. Since only a few have remained and all have different text engravings, we may assume that the total number of busts has not been considerably larger. The stadtholder presented such miniatures on very rare special occasions and only during a brief period, between 1748 and 1751. Nothing about the formal commission to Stagman is known. In the payment order of the Nassau domain board his name is absent. Neither the cashier’s registry nor the court circle have a record for an order to Stagman.
As stated above, the De Pinto snuff box was presented by Stanislaus Leszczyński, the gold miniature by William VI. Only a few people will have moved on such a level that they were both acquainted with the king of Poland as well as the Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic. While studying the box only one name connected to a probable consignee surfaced; although there may be other possible candidates the most probable recipient was Isaac de Pinto.
Isaac de Pinto
Isaac de Pinto (1717 Amsterdam – The Hague 1787) was a wealthy Jewish-Dutch political economist, philosopher and lover of the arts. He had his Brit Milah on 18 April 1717; this likely means he was born on 10 April and received his Bar Mitzvah in 1730. He grew up in the St. Anthoniesbreestraat – the street where Rembrandt had live a century before – in a house known as Huis de Pinto (Pinto House). His father, David Jnr, had bought the Tulpenburgh estate on the river Amstel from Nicolaas Witsen in 1717. The 17-year old Isaac de Pinto married on 29 December 1734 to Rachel Nuñes Henriques, whose father held majority shares in the Dutch East India Company VOC; the couple never had any children.
Upon the suggestion of the receiver-general Gijsbert Diederiksz. van Hogendorp (1668 The Hague 1750) De Pinto advised stadtholder prince William IV of Orange by sending or lending him money to defeat the French at the Siege of Bergen op Zoom in 1748. In return De Pinto asked for uplifting measures against Jewish merchants forbidding them to sell clothes, gherkins or fish on the streets of Amsterdam. He proposed to open the guilds for the Jews and to send the poorest to Surinam. In 1749 De Pinto was among those who had initiated the restoration of power of the Orange family at the end of the second Stadtholderless era (1702-1749). De Pinto also suggested to appoint the stadtholder as commander in chief of the VOC. The prince then also received the right to appoint other candidates as his replacement. In the same year De Pinto reduced the percentage of the misappropriating funds of the prince from 4 to 3%. His efforts to improve the financial position of the VOC enabled the company to pay dividend to its shareholders, after years of non-payment. In 1750 he was appointed by the prince as trustee of the Dutch East India Company VOC. As a token of his personal gratitude for saving the republic the stadtholder may have presented De Pinto with a golden badge with his portrait.
As an economist avant la lettre De Pinto knew how to convince the Grand Pensionary and the Stadtholder of his ideas regarding state loans. Moreover, De Pinto specifically opposed to the speculation in government bonds. William IV requested De Pinto to put his thoughts in writing, hence the publication of the Mémoire sur le crédit et sur les fonds publics. Its contents pleased the stadtholder who summoned De Pinto to appear at the court, where he, in the presence of the lords Fagel, Gillesz. and others, explained and defended his ideas. De Pinto wrote: ‘Later I was present during this important council meeting, whereby the Prince asked me about other matters’.
De Pinto was a man of broad learning, but did not begin to write until nearly 45, when he acquired a reputation by defending his co-religionists against Voltaire’s Dictionaire philosophique, in which the Jews were called a peuple ignorant et barbare (a barbaric and ignorant people)’. In 1762 he published his Essai sur le Luxe at Amsterdam. In the same year appeared his Apologie pour la Nation Juive, ou Réflexions Critiques. The author sent a manuscript copy of this work to Voltaire. Antoine Guenée reproduced the Apologie at the head of his Lettres de Quelques Juifs Portugais, Allemands et Polonais, à M. de Voltaire. Various authors, both contemporary and later, commented on De Pinto’s writings. One of them, Karl Marx, derisively referred to Pinto – whom he regarded as a major exponent of the free-market liberalism he criticised – as the ‘Pindar of the Amsterdam stock exchange’ for his glorification of the Dutch financial system.
Prince William IV had visited the Tulpenburgh estate on 6 August 1750, in the company of twelve horsemen of the guards, as is mentioned by Jacob Bicker Raije in his diary. Not only Stadtholder William IV came to the house, but also king Frederick the Great in 1755. De Pinto had embellished the gardens of Tulpenburgh by installing a fountain on a small island and even a synagogue was erected. Frederick the Great was so impressed that he asked De Pinto’s gardener to come to Berlin. Part of Frederick’s Potsdam grounds were based on the layout of the Lunéville gardens by Émmanuel Héré. It is possible that Stanislaus Leszczyński also came to Tulpenburgh because of its inspirational gardens. The mutual interest for philosophy, arts and gardening must have had influence during the meetings between Leszczyński and De Pinto.
On 4 March 1761 Jacob Bicker Raije noted in his diary: […] is door ongelukkige negotie of actiehandel het voornaame huijs van de heere de Pintoo’s moete faljeeren‘ ([…] because of unsuccessful trading or gambling the distinguished house owned by De Pinto gentlemen had to be declared bankrupt), maybe as a result of raising loans of 6 or 6.6 million guilders for the British government, in either 1759 or 1761. The De Pinto brothers had to sell Tulpenburgh and it was finally demolished in 1784. Isaac de Pinto moved to Paris, where he met with James Cockburn, Lord Hertford, Mattheus Lestevenon, David Hume John Russell, 4th Duke of Bedford and Denis Diderot. He then moved to The Hague and lived in a beautiful mansion at Lange Voorhout. During two concerts in 1765 and 1768 by the young Mozart and his sister for the Stadtholder’s family both Aron and Isaac were present.
In 1767 De Pinto travelled to London, met with Lord Bute where he received a pension for his advice on the Treaty of Paris (1763), as the British gained influence over the French in India through his suggestion. ‘He pointed out that if the British did not obtain this change, war would probably break out again.’ In 1768, Pinto sent a letter to Diderot on Du Jeu de Cartes. His Traité de la Circulation et du Crédit in which ‘he convinced many people that England was not on the verge of bankruptcy’, started in 1761, appeared in Amsterdam in 1771. He disagreed with Hume, Vivant de Mezague and Mirabeau. His treatise was twice reprinted, besides being translated into English by the politician Philip Francis and into German by Carl August von Struensee. His Précis des Arguments Contre les Matérialistes was published at The Hague in 1774. De Pinto published mainly in French and once in Portuguese. In 1775 he met with Jean-Paul Marat, whom he ordered to leave his house by pushing the latter off the stairs. In 1776 he wrote against the American revolutionaries; he did approve the Boston Tea Party. Around 1780 he disapproved an alliance of the Dutch Republic with France.
For apparent reasons Isaac de Pinto had become close friends with the stadtholder, prince William IV, in the early 1750s. This is why the Polish-French sovereign and the Dutch stadtholder both may have wanted to honour their host with a precious gift.
- Anonymous sale, Beurdeley, Galerie Georges Petit Paris 27 May-1 June 1895, lot 17
- Private collection, the Netherlands
Jhr C.H.C.A. van Sypesteyn, Geschiedkundige verzamelingen I De prinsen van Oranje in ’s
Gravenhage penningen, medaillons, draagtekens, linten, miniaturen enz., Den Haag, 1901
Jacques Charles Gaffiot, Lunéville Fastes du Versailles Lorrain, 2 vols., Paris, 2003-2006.
Monique Maillet-Chassagne and Irène de Château-Thierry, Catalogue raisonné des oeuvres des Van Blarenberghe (1680-1826), Lille, 2004
Jaarboek Rembrandt 1977, Jaarverslag Vereniging Rembrandt, Vereniging Rembrandt,
Amsterdam, 1977, p. 29-33
Hubert Vreeken, Goud en zilver met Amsterdamse keuren: de verzameling van het Amsterdams Historisch Museum, Zwolle: Waanders; Amsterdam: Amsterdams Historisch Museum, 2003
George Sanders, ‘Oranjepenningen in Paleis Het Loo: met een catalogus van de
penningcollectie van de geschiedkundige vereniging Oranje-Nassau’, in Jaarboek Oranje
Nassau 2004-2005, Rotterdam, 2006, pp. 93-96
Jean-François Méjanèt (ed.), Irène de Chateau-Thierry, Monique Maillet-Chassange, Les Van Blarenberghe, des reporters du XVIIIe siècle, Musée du Louvre, 2006
France and the Netherlands, circa 1750. The miniatures signed: 'v Blarenberghe'
The gold portrait miniature of Prince William IV signed: 'J. Stagman fecit'
4,3 x 7,8 x 6 cm. (h x w x d)