Maker: John Obrisset (British, active 1705–28)
This snuffbox depicts Elihu Yale, a prosperous merchant, governor of the East India Company, and namesake of Yale University. The portrait was crafted by the British artisan John Obrisset, who achieved brief renowned for his cameolike portraits of members of London society molded into tortoiseshell. The shell plaque was set into the lid of a silver box that held snuff, a powdered tobacco that was popular in fashionable circles. The early history of this snuffbox is unknown, but it was most likely commissioned by Elihu Yale, as similar boxes are known to have been commissioned by their subjects. Yale's descendants presented the box in 1755 to a member of the Yale family living in Wallingford, Connecticut. Ezra Stiles, seventh president of Yale, acquired the box in 1788 and gave it to the University "as a Memorial of its principal Benefactor."
Silver and tortoiseshell
9/16 × 3 1/4 × 2 9/16 in. (1.4 × 8.3 × 6.5 cm)
- Credit Line
Gift of Ezra Stiles
- Accession Number
Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.
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