French (Paris)
[Role] Paul Legrand (1840–1910), Possibly made by Crossville and Glachant (French (Paris), founded in 1861), Retailed by Frédéric Boucheron (French (Paris), 1858–present)


23.4 x 33.6 cm (9 3/16 x 13 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Silver, partial gilt, champlevé, basse-taille, cloisonné enamels

Not On View





Silver, partially gilded, decorated in champlevé, basse-taille, and cloisonné enamels, with cut out base supported on four cast turtles, enameled with geometric patterns, naturalistic scenes, and facsimile prints surrounding a sea with carp. Fitted with a drawer etched and parcel-gilt in three colors. Base supports four shaped letter racks in geometric patterns flanked by two rolling blotters topped with “shi-shi” dogs holding brocade balls. Removable central section has a vase-shaped pen holder deocrated with female figures, plants, and field mice in kimonos, flanked by nesting boxes enameled in landcape and geometric motifs. Removable lids topped by a beetle and a wasp in gold and basse-taille enamel.

The form and decoration of this inkstand whimsically imitate Japanese art, and it is a vivid illustration of the work of Parisian goldsmiths at the height of the craze for things Japanese. The inkpots resemble stacked porcelain bowls, whereas the penholder at center mimics a flaring bronze vase. The highly decorative colored enamels reproduce more than thirty Japanese ornamental patterns borrowed from lacquer, ceramics, prints, fans, and textiles.


"10 juillet 1876" enamelled on one side of base, at lower left


"Fic BOUCHERON PARIS" engraved on base and drawer bottom


"CG" on drawer edge (probably for Crossville & Glachant).


1878, probably sold by Boucheron to Marie-Louise Hungerford (Mrs. John) Mackay (b. 1843 - d. 1928), Paris, London, and New York. December 15, 1988, anonymous sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, to S.J. Phillips, London, and Firestone and Parsons, Boston; 1989, sold by S. J. Phillips and Firestone and Parsons to Alan and Simone Hartman, New York. October 24, 2000, anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, lot 179, to the MFA. (Accession Date: November 15, 2000)

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds bequeathed by Genevieve Gray Young in memory of Patience Young and Patience Gray Young, Frederick Brown Fund, William E. Nickerson Fund, Otis Norcross Fund, Arthur Tracy Cabot Fund, H. E. Bolles Fund, Russell B. and Andrée Beauchamp Stearns Fund, Ernest Kahn Fund, Helen B. Sweeney Fund, and European Decorative Arts Insurance, Deaccession and Deaccession Income Funds