Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The Wallace Collection: OBJECTS Part II


The only time it's not rude to stare at someone is when you're in an art gallery or museum where you can lock eyes with portraits the features of which are almost anthropomorphic. It's also possibly one of the rare times when there's a connection and understanding between yourself and what (or who) you're gazing at without the need for verbal communication.


Out of the nearly 5,500 objects on display at The Wallace Collection, about 775 are paintings and drawings by the likes of Titian, Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Van Dyck, and Canaletto, among others. Some everyday objects on display give us a glimpse of aristocratic lifestyle and vice during the 18th century.



Susanna Van Collen and her daughter Ann by REMBRANDT



The Laughing Cavalier by FRANS HALS, 1624



Bronze, wood and gold sculpture of a panther, c. 1525.



Marble sculpture of Cupid and Psyche by Filippo della Valle, Florence c. 1732






The above glass display looks like an array of sumptuous pastries, don't they?

These elaborately and intricately designed decorative objects are snuff boxes, which accessory makers rolled out  as snuff-taking became fashionable in the 18th century. Snuff is smokeless pulverised tobacco that's sniffed for a swift hit of nicotine that was sometimes flavoured or scented. I've seen similar boxes in carved solid silver at the Museum of Bags and Purses in Amsterdam. These ones are probably the equivalent of today's 'IT' bags. 

Snuffing was to the elite as smoking was to the hoi polloi. Prominent historical figures known to snuff were Pope Benedict XIII, Napoleon, Marie Antoinette, Alexander Pope, and Samuel Johnson. These snuff boxes were for the ladies, judging from the feminine and dainty designs. 


Below are just two of the ones I find very charming. 









Back in the day, a vice was concealed in fashionable gilded boxes decorated with enamel and precious stones. Nowadays, vices are concealed in what most of us receive at the end of the month which can make us pass out if and when we decide not to ignore it: a credit card statement. Who knows, our plastic cards may one day be exhibited in museums.


Back for more.



Click HERE and HERE for posts about the rooms and galleries; and on PART I for other objects in the collection.










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