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Precious Trinkets of the Princes of Thurn and Taxis at Bayerisches Nationalmuseum
Hofkonzert in Schloß Ismaning (Ausschnitt), Peter Jakob Horemans, München, wohl 1733. Öl auf Leinwand. © Bayerisches Nationalmuseum München.

MUNICH, GERMANY.- The Bayerisches Nationalmuseum is showing a special exhibition titled “Galante Preziosen der Fürsten von Thurn und Taxis” (Precious Trinkets of the Princes of Thurn and Taxis) through 30 March 2008. The focal point of the show is a unique ensemble of 55 gold snuffboxes dating from the second half of the 18th century, which the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum acquired along with the main holdings in the art collections of the Princes of Thurn and Taxis. The state-of-the-art snuffboxes originate from France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England and Russia. These are captivating objects not only because of their perfect craftsmanship, but also because they are opulently embellished with gemstones and the finest enamel paintings; some of the boxes are made of rock crystal or lapis lazuli, others of hard stones; some are decorated with small plates of carved ivory or Japanese lacquer. The snuffboxes, documented in an inventory as early as 1796, were mainly collected by Prince Carl Anselm of Thurn and Taxis (1733-1805), who as First Commissioner represented the Emperor at the Permanent Imperial Diet in Regensburg and had significant income at his disposal from the Thurn and Taxis postal service. Today, the gold snuffboxes once owned by the Thurn and Taxis family constitute an outstanding, historical, integrated whole which has no equivalent in any other German museum.

In addition to the snuffboxes, this special exhibition has other treasures on display, such as Prince Carl Anselm's unique set of diamond coat and waistcoat decoration for his gala uniform as well as various valuable gold and silver items privately owned by the House of Thurn and Taxis and not usually accessible to the general public.

The gold Thurn und Taxis snuffboxes are also presented in the context of the cultural history of the “Age of Gallantry”. Splendid ladies and gentlemen's outfits made of luxurious silks, and various accessories, such as fans, cases, pocket-watches and walking-sticks, as well as contemporary portraits represent a lively illustration of the Rococo and early Classicist eras, which were characterised by the greatest sophistication.

To mark the exhibition, a 520-page catalogue of the Thurn und Taxis snuffboxes has been published with 246 colour illustrations; the publication was subsidised by the Ernst von Siemens Art Foundation.

The exhibition is also being subsidised by the following institutions: Rudolf-August-Oetker Stiftung für Kunst, Kultur, Wissenschaft und Denkmalpflege Bielefeld, Juwelier Hemmerle München und Deutsche Bank AG Private Wealth Management.

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