Jacobite snuff box acquired by West Highland Museum in 2019 with an NFA grant of £3,450.
We were delighted to have the opportunity to purchase a rare hidden portrait Jacobite snuff box at the Lyon and Turnbull auction in Edinburgh in August 2019 at a cost of £9,750.
The circular box with enamel tartan decoration has a hinged cover which opens to reveal a plain interior. Inside, however, a hidden lid opens to reveal a finely enamelled portrait of Prince Charles Edward Stuart in tartan jacket and Jacobite white cockade. He wears the highest chivalric honours of England and Scotland, the Orders of the Garter and the Thistle, signifying the owner’s support for the legitimacy of the Stuart claim to the British throne. The portrait is a variant of the famous Robert Strange example which likely dates this piece to circa 1750.
Hidden portrait snuff boxes such as this are amongst the most iconic Jacobite works of art. A Jacobite host could give his friends a pinch of snuff and, depending on the company, could reveal the hidden portrait. This example is in particularly good condition and finely enamelled. The West Highland Museum has been actively seeking Jacobite material since its inception in 1922 and its collections are based on material donated for the 1925 Prince Charles Edward Stuart Exhibition. The collection contains many unique and unusual objects, such as the Secret Portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie, his death mask, paintings, drawings, miniatures, Jacobite glass, weapons and an important Jacobite archive. This valuable addition to the collection is now on permanent display.
We would not have been able to acquire this fine object without the financial support of the National Fund for Acquisitions, the Art Fund and a very generous local donor. We are most grateful to everyone who has contributed to make this purchase possible.
West Highland Museum