Snuff box with medallion of the Marchande d’Amours in Wedgwood style

Vienna, Imperial Porcelain Factory, c. 1785
Décor Philipp Ernst Schindler (Dresden 1723–1793 Vienna)
Hard-paste porcelain, jasperware imitation, onglaze colours, underglaze blue, multicoloured gilding, silver plating, gold mount

H. 3.5 cm (1 3/8 in.), W. 8.4 cm (3 5/16 in.), D. 6.1 cm (2 3/8 in.)


After completing his education in the years 1740–44 at the manufactory in Meissen as well as having gained noticeable experience as an enameller in all technical and artistic qualifications for the production of “fancy goods,” Philipp Ernst Schindler, son of the eponymous Meissen porcelain painter, created the most precious snuff boxes of the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in Vienna. Some notable examples of Schindler’s art are housed in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London as a permanent loan from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection.

More examples can be found, for instance, in the Wallace Collection, London, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
On September 22, 1750, Philipp Ernst Schindler joined the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory in Vienna. A letter to his parents, in which he asks them and “Herrn Bergrat von Meissen” for pardon, has been preserved in the Saxon State Archives, revealing the fact of his unauthorised escape from Meissen: “that I leave you and Meissen is because of love (. . .).”i In Vienna, Schindler married Anna Maria Leithner, whose stepsister, the singer Katharina Leithner (Schindler; 1755–1788) he adopted. His own daughter Anna Maria Elisabeth Schindler (Vienna 1757–1779 Vienna) married the court actor Joseph Lange (Würzburg 1751–1831 Vienna), who, in 1780 married for a second time Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s sister-in-law Aloysia Weber (Zell im Wiesenthal 1759/61–1839 Salzburg) Consequently, Schindler seems to have been included familistically in the areas of theatre and music in Vienna. Perhaps he had met his Viennese wife, for whom he converted to Catholicism, at one of the Dresden stages.

On September 12, 1750, Count Heinrich von Brühl (Ganglöffsommern 1700–1763 Dresden) received news of Schindler’s “escape.” Ten days later, Schindler began his work in Vienna, which proved to be promising, but meant a loss for Meissen: “Like now, this escaped painter, the young Schindler, is an excellent portrait painter and has since painted and produced the best snuff boxes.”ii

In Vienna, Schindler first had to prove his talent while being handed over porcelain boxes to be painted with the portraits of the imperial couple Maria Theresa (Vienna 1717–1780 Vienna) and Francis I (Nancy 1708–1765 Innsbruck). His subsequent career demonstrates the success of his achievements.
In 1770, Philipp Ernst Schindler succeeded Josef Anton Anreiter of Zierfeld (b. Vienna, c. 1724) and was appointed “real painting director” [wirklicher Malereidirektor]. His technical skills led to his appointment in 1777 as arcanist assistant and, finally, in 1781, to arcanist. In this capacity, he developed new formulations for paints and porcelain mass, including an imitation of the coveted “jasperware” invented in England by Josiah Wedgwood (Burslem 1730–1795 Etruria) in 1774, an interpretation of antique cameos. While Wedgwood imbued a very fine-grained, porcelain-like earthenware monochrome with colours such as blue, manganese cerulean blue, green, or yellow, in Vienna porcelain was usually coloured with cobalt blue with a relief from white porcelain mass added. Joseph Folnesics and Edmund Wilhelm Braun state that shortly after the invention of jasperware by Wedgwood “an Englishman named Werner von Viller (also Vernier de Viller)” appeared “who claimed to be able to produce porcelain from a thoroughly coloured mass, and who asked permission to be allowed to do samples of his technique at the factory.”iii However, the Vienna Porcelain Manufactory decided against it, to acquire the formula. Instead, Schindler researched the matter with success, culminating in the production of numerous vases, déjeuners, and decorative plaques in the Wedgwood style from about 1780 to 1800.iv In the spirit of venerating antiquity, mythological representations were employed as motifs, but also contemporary portraits. In the collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein, Vaduz-Vienna (inv. no. PO 2147) is a pair of vases of this sort from the time around 1790, with oval portrait medallions of the imperial family, which is now on permanent loan to the Augarten Porcelain Museum, Vienna. In some Viennese palaces of the time, cabinets were accoutered in the English style, whose furniture, panelling, caskets, and musical instruments were adorned with the plaques.

In the spring of 1792, the sculptor and master modeller Anton Grassi (Vienna 1755–1807 Vienna) embarked on his two-year study trip to Italy and delivered to the Queen of Naples, Archduchess Maria Carolina of Austria (Vienna 1752–1814 Schloss Hetzendorf near Vienna), among other things, an ink set designed by him with medallions in the blue paste invented by Schindler in the Wedgwood style.
For the medallion of the snuff box, Schindler chose the presentation of the famous Marchande d’Amours (Venditrice di amorini), the seller of Cupids, whose role model can be found in a mural from the first century A.D. from Villa Arianna in Stabiae., which was discovered in 1759. Conforming to the zeitgeist of the late eighteenth century, this serene and soulful aspect of antiquity was repeatedly published and translated into all media of the arts; it was initially engraved by Carlo Nolli (Como 1724–1775 Naples) after Giovanni Morghen (Florence 1721–1789) in 1762 (fig. 1).
Schindler’s stylistics also include the use of enamel techniques as well as gold reliefs, which, in turn, were inspired by the art of goldsmithing. As in the design of contemporary gold boxes to which Schindler applied enamel painting in considerable numbers, he also used gilding à trois couleurs on porcelain. The honeycomb pattern on the coloured ground as well as the relief flowers and ribbons imitate thus the impression of a massive gold box.
In the manufactory, Philipp Ernst Schindler was also one of the most acclaimed figure painters. It can be assumed that the figurative representations on the porcelain box also come from him, both the relief and the winged nymph on the bottom, adorned with a wreath of roses. The octagonal shape of the box is borrowed from French gold snuff boxes from around 1770. The relief decoration which recreates embossed and chased gold exceeds, however, its French models in its opulence.

In the Victoria & Albert Museum in London is a gold box with an enamel medallion in the lid that shows Venus and Adonis based on an engraving by Michel-Guillaume Aubert (Paris 1704–1757 Paris) of 1730 (John Jones Bequest, 912–1882, fig. 2). This depiction en grisaille is signed and inscribed “Schindler Wienn.”
Another gold box with mythological depictions en grisaille, including Venus, Mars, and Cupid, on a blue ground, imitating lapis lazuli in structure, and which is framed by areas that imitate malachite, is also on permanent loan from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection to the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (loan: Gilbert 364–2008, fig. 3). While the signed enamel painting is in Schindler’s hand, the gold box bears a Viennese hallmark and the master’s mark of Michel Pierre Colas (active 1763–81), with whom Schindler frequently collaborated.
Grisaille is a recreation of classical reliefs and cameos from which a decorative genre developed in the second half of the eighteenth century, and which became its own fashion both in enamel as well as in porcelain and the wall design of interiors.
Another Viennese porcelain box in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Copenhagen is painted en grisaille on a light blue ground with vanitas subjects. The lid of the box shows Chronos who has kidnapped a young girl, as well as Eros, and on the bottom of the box a putto blowing bubbles and floral festoons on the sides. Quite in the style of Schindler, the décor re-embraces Schindler’s theme of cameos (inv. no. B 143/1939, fig. 4). A design for the sides of a snuff box from the estate of the imperial manufactory is preserved in the MAK—Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst/Gegenwartskunst in Vienna—which also plays with such an aesthetic concept (inv. no. 771/114, fig. 5).

1.[(. . .) dass ich euch und Meissen verlasse, das thut die Liebe (. . .)], cf. Folnesics/Braun 1907, note 89, from the Saxon State Archives XIII, loc. 1343, vol. XVa, fol. 78.

2.[Wie nun dieser echapirte Mahler der junge Schindler ein sehr guther Portrait Mahler auch zeithero die besten Tabatierenstück gemahlet und gefertiget hat], in ibid., fol. 77, September 12, 1750.

3.[ein Engländer namens Werner von Viller (auch Vernier de Viller), der behauptete, Porzellan aus einer durch und durch gefärbten Masse herstellen zu können, und um Erlaubnis bat, an der Fabrik Proben seiner Technik anstellen zu dürfen.], cf. Folnesics/Braun 1907, p. 193.

4.According to Folnesics/Braun 1907, p. 193, Schindler succeeded in producing the “blue paste” in 1790. Wilhelm Mrazek and Waltraud Neuwirth (Mrazek/Neuwirth 1970) date this invention to 1780. It can be assumed that in Vienna, relatively soon after 1774, the attempt was made to copy the novelty from England to conform to the fashion of the time. A déjeuner dated 1789 is decorated with an already technically perfect antique-like relief medallion in the Wedgwood style (MAK—Österreichisches Museum für angewandte Kunst in Wien, Vienna, inv. no. Ke 959).


Jobst 1998, fig. 51

REF No. 67