This oval gold snuff box is inscribed with a crest of ‘a stag trippant’ within mantling of upright ostrich plumes tied with a bow, all below a ducal coronet and above a cypher of the entwined initials ‘B.A.B.’ for Anne of Buccleuch. English, circa 1670.
Provenance: Anne, 1st Duchess of Buccleuch
Anne Scott, 1st Duchess of Buccleuch (1651-1732) was a wealthy Scottish peeress. After her father died when she was a few months old, and her sisters by the time she was 10, she inherited the family’s titles. She was married, at 12 years old, to James, 1st Duke of Monmouth, the eldest illegitimate son of Charles II, then 14. Following the king’s death in February 1685, James spearheaded an anti-Catholic revolt to depose the new king, James II, and claim the throne from his uncle. The brief Monmouth Rebellion ended in defeat and James, by then Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch, was executed for treason. The Duchess had six children by Monmouth, and a further three by her second husband, Charles, 3rd Baron Cornwallis, whom she married in 1688. She died in 1732 and was succeeded by her grandson, Francis, Earl of Dalkeith.
The style of chasing used on this box is very reminiscent of a signed piece in the Gilbert Collection, currently on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The Gilbert piece, English from around 1720, is signed by the chaser known only by his surname, Burel. The Gilbert example also incorporates a similar hunting scene and, perhaps more significantly, very similar strapwork framing the hunting scene in the frieze. As a result of this, it is appropriate to attribute our piece to the Burel workshop although this box dates to some time earlier when Anne of Buccleuch came of age and gave birth to her first child.
We are very grateful to Angela Howard for her work on the heraldry on this box and her full research, including references to other examples featuring similar mantling and of a contemporary date, is available upon request.