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Joseph-Etienne Blerzy (1735 - 1821) A Two-Colour Gold and Enamel Presentation Snuff Box

Gold & Enamel
Paris, circa 1825
Maker’s Mark of Etienne-Lucien Blerzy

Set with A Miniature of Général Rivaud De La Raffinière.


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Additional Images Provenance

According to family tradition, the box was given to Rivaud de la Raffinière by Jérôme Bonaparte, possibly at the time the general was ennobled as count in 1808. The miniature must have been painted after 1825 when the General was appointed Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour and presumably replaced a previous miniature, probably depicting the King of Westphalia. Thence by descent.

The youngest of ten children, Olivier Macoux Rivaud de la Raffinière was born in Civray, Vienne, just south of Poitiers, on 10 February 1766, and entered the army at an early age. His promotion during the Revolutionary Wars was rapid, rising from sous-lieuténant in 1793 to Général de division in 1802. He fought mainly in Germany, coming to the attention of Jérôme Bonaparte, who became Roi de Westphalie in 1806. Following the Restauration, Rivaud de la Raffinière became député for La Rochelle in 1815/16 and then Inspector General of the Infantry. The General had been ennobled as Baron de l’Empire in 1802 and as comte de la Raffinière in 1808. Already appointed commandeur de l’ordre de Saint-Louis in 1821, he received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour in 1825. He died in Angoulême in 1839.

Silversmith Biography

Joseph-Etienne Blerzy was born on 8 June 1735 and apprenticed on 27 February 1750 to François-Joachim Aubert, a goldsmith who specialised in mounting tortoiseshell and lacquer snuff boxes. Aubert also acted as sponsor in 1768 when Blerzy became master, from the pont au Change. His shop, under the sign of the ‘ville de Leipzig’, remained on the bridge until 1785 when all the houses were pulled down to widen the road. He then moved to the rue de la Monnaie 41, and sometime before 1798 to the rue du Coq St. Honoré where he is recorded in the Almanach de Commerce in 1806 with Etienne-Lucien Blerzy. In 1808, Etienne-Lucien’s widow (Victoire Boisot) took over the business so presumably by that date Joseph-Etienne had retired after his long career as one of the most prolific and technically-accomplished late eighteenth century Parisian gold box makers. He died on 23 April 1821.


The lid inset with a miniature of général Rivaud de la Raffinière, in uniform and wearing orders, the ground patterned with engine-turned circles within crisp blue enamel taille d'épargne and ribbon borders.

Marked with the maker's mark of Etienne-Lucien Blerzy, bear's head 3e titre and Paris petite garantie, 1798-1809.

Engraved and numbered: N° 77 / Etienne Nitot et Fils / Jouailliers Bijoutiers de leur Majestés le Roi et la Reine de Westphalie à Paris / 45

A Two-Colour Gold and Enamel Presentation Snuff Box (1735 - 1821) Reference: 23875/1