Posted 9 months ago
Silver tobacco box, embossed, gilt interior, loth ``13``, letter ``B`` for Prague 1837 (not to be confused with Linz after 1867).
The symbolism in embossed lid is very interesting.
Left side: chained Pegasus liberated, lyre, grape barrel?
Right: thermometer or slide rule, plane (tool), wand? laurel wreath, crown thrown to the snakes
Who is in the middle with laurel wreath?
Some reasonable clues:
A bust of Francis I (II), Austrian Emperor,died 1835.The box may honor the late emperor in a classical style, with laurel and items attributed to him. This was fairly common during Biedermeier.The items left and right are attributed to the emperor; symbols of Freemasonry? Francis I was a member. The censorship was rigid at the time. So, it was not expected to find any criticism on the Austrian Empire on an officially hallmarked item. All symbols had to be politically correct. Symbols from Freemasonry were accepted. The snake may represent Napoleon defeated by the Austrian Empire.
Subtle criticism, though, may be like this:
Pegasus represents the source of wisdom. Pegasus was ridden by Bellerophon, a Greek heron, who fought the Chimera. The Chimera is a mystical animal with snake tail.The Pegasus correlates Francis with Bellerophon. The Chimera (snake tail) is Napoleon. Napoleon surrendered 1815 to the British ship of the line ``Bellerophon". A coincidence? Bellerophon fell later from Pegasus and lost eyesight and became crippled. So a subtitle interpretation could be: Francis defeats the beast (Napoleon) with the help of the allies, later in his life he became a very conservative and repressive ruler, crippled and blind.
Revolutionary movements in the Habsburg Austrian Empire? Mounting social and political tensions after the Congress of Vienna of 1815. During the "pre-March" period, the already conservative Austrian Empire moved further away from ideas of the Age of Enlightenment, restricted freedom of the press, and limited many university activities, including banning fraternities.
Any clues are appreciated.