Snuff box

about 1750-60


H. 1 1/2 in.

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Gold, gray agate, diamonds, rubies, enamel

Out on Loan

On display at Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: Legion of Honor, February 10, 2018 – May 28, 2018





Octagonal snuff box with agate sides and top, mounted with gold frame. The side panels are framed by an arcade, the cover with a diamond flower spray in the center, surrounded by gold rococo scrollowork set with rubies. A band of white enamel around the top edge reads: L’ESPOIR DE TA FIDELITE FAIT MA SEULE FELICITE


With enameled inscription around rim L'ESPOIR DE TA FIDELITE FAIT MA SEULE FELICITE


By 1938, Alphonse de Rothschild (b. 1878 – d. 1942) and Clarice de Rothschild (b. 1894 – d. 1967), Vienna; 1938, confiscated from Alphonse and Clarice de Rothschild by Nazi forces (no. AR 1129) [see note 1]; taken to the Kunsthistorisches Museum and stored at the Central Depot, Neue Burg, Vienna; 1941, removed to the monastery of Kremsmünster and subsequently to Alt Aussee; 1945, recovered by Allied forces; about 1947/1950, returned to Clarice de Rothschild, New York [see note 2]; by descent to her daughter, Bettina Looram de Rothschild (b. 1924 - d. 2012); about 1990/1992, given by Bettina Looram de Rothschild to members of her family; 2013, gift of the heirs of Bettina Looram de Rothschild to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 18, 2013)

[1] With the Anschluss, or annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany in March, 1938, the possessions of Alphonse and Clarice de Rothschild were seized and expropriated almost immediately by Nazi forces. This snuff box appears in a Nazi-generated inventory of 1939 as no. AR (Alphonse Rothschild) 1129: "Achtseitige Achatdose, in Goldmontierung, mit feinstem Rocaillen- und Blumenwerk, auf dem Deckel Blütenzweig in Brillanten, Rocaillen mit Rubinen, Inschrift auf weissem Email." Katalog beschlagnahmter Sammlungen, inbesondere der Rothschild-Sammlungen in Wien, Verlags-Nr. 4938, Staatsdruckerei Wien, 1939, Privatarchiv, reproduced in Sophie Lillie, "Was einmal war: Handbuch der enteigneten Kunstsammlungen Wiens" (Vienna, 2003), p. 1040.

[2] Many works of art stored elsewhere by the Nazis were moved to the abandoned salt mines of Alt Aussee in Austria, to be kept safe from wartime bombing. Allied troops recovered the looted artwork at the end of World War II, and established collecting points where the art could be identified for restitution to its rightful owners. In 1947 Clarice de Rothschild visited the salt mines at Alt Aussee, where she was able to identify the crates of works of art from her family’s collection, facilitating its return shortly thereafter.

Credit Line

Gift of the heirs of Bettina Looram de Rothschild