Morel-Ladeuil, Leonard - The Death of Andre Mazet, Barcelona, 1821

In collecting miniature portraits it becomes inevitable that one becomes attracted to items slightly outside the boundaries of a collection, but related to it and interesting in their own right.

One such an example is this French snuff box. There are 6 or 8 snuff boxes in this collection which have portrait miniatures as part of the decoration. Hence this one looked interesting, especially as it has a medical theme, as over two years have been spent researching the life and times of the 19C surgeon Sir Anthony Carlisle.

The snuff lid decoration is 70mm in diameter and is set into the lid of a composition or papier mache box. The material appears to be a thin sheet of gold applied to a thin sheet of copper, as the base, in a similar manner to Sheffield Plate. The design technique is repousse, which means raised in relief, as a design on a thin piece of metal hammered through from the underside. A similar effect can be achieved by pressing or stamping a design, but the detail on this example appears too fine for that.

As discussed further below, there was a yellow fever epidemic in Barcelona in 1821. A French medical team including six physicians and two nuns was sent to Barcelona to provide assistance. Dr Rocheaux (aka Dr Rochoux) one of the French physicians at Barcelona during the epidemic, states in his book on yellow fever printed in 1828, that in the early part of the epidemic the mortality was in the proportion of 19 out of 20 of those infected, that towards the middle it became much less, and at the close was only two thirds.

The doctors can be seen tending the victims in tented cubicles on the right, with the two nuns, acting as nurses, standing at the rear. A doctor, perhaps Dr Rochoux, sits at the front mourning his colleague, and wondering about the cause of the epidemic. An angel is conveying to heaven, the soul of Dr Andre Mazet (seen here) who has just died, while placing a wreath on the obelisk. Death, as a skeleton holding the sickle of the Grim Reaper stands on the left and is raising the lid of an empty tomb. The tree is a weeping willow, ready to weep over the dead, but is outshone by the sun, shining brightly with pleasure at the positive efforts of the doctors. 

There are several inscriptions on it;
Bottom - DEVOUEMENT DES MEDECINS FRANCAIS A BARCELONNE 1821- which translates as commemorating "the devotion of the French doctors in Barcelona in 1821".
Left on obelisk - MA ZET - There are two interpretations. Firstly, Andre Mazet was one of the doctors who died two years after publishing his book, "Observations sur la Fievre Jaune, Faites a Cadix, en 1819". This was an account of a similar outbreak in Cadiz in 1819, with Mazet himself a victim of yellow fever contracted during the expedition to Barcelona. But secondly, and less likely, "mazette" is an old expression meaning "Nothing or Empty", with the funeral monument empty because the doctors have saved so many lives.
Left on tomb - ILS ME LES RAVISSENT - Death is implying, there is nothing here for me; "they (the doctors ) have taken all of them".
Left under tomb - MOREL F - for Morel fecit - Morel made it.

There were several French jewellers named Morel and this was likely made later than 1821 by Leonard Morel-Ladeuil. Alternatively, it may be an earlier piece by Gabriel-Raoul Morel (c1819-1838) who made the box showing here, or by Alexandre-Raoul Morel (c1833-1850)
LEONARD MOREL-LADEUIL (1820-1888), French goldsmith and sculptor, was born at Clermont-Ferrand. He was apprenticed first to Morel, a manufacturer of bronzes, under whom he became one of the most expert chasers, or ciseleurs, in France, and then to Antoine Vechte, to acquire the art of repousse (q.v.) - the art in which he was to excel. He studied further under J. J. Feuchere and then attracted the notice of the comte d'Orsay and the due de Morny, through whose recommendation the French government, desirous of popularizing the idea of the new Imperialism, commissioned him to produce the "Empire Shield." Napoleon III. notified his warm approval, but the trade, annoyed that a craftsman should obtain commissions direct, resented the innovation and thenceforward boycotted the young artist, whose beautiful and poetic vase, "Dance of the Willis" (the spirits dancing round the vase, above the lake represented on a dish below) none would take. He was encouraged nevertheless by a foreign dealer in Paris, Marchi, who employed him on statuettes, mainly religious in character, until 1859, when Messrs Elkington, in view of the great exhibition of 1862, engaged him to work in Birmingham for three years in repousse, assuring him a free hand. Following his silver "Night" came "Day," and then the "Inventions" vase, which placed him at once at the top of his profession. This was followed by the beautiful plateau called "Dreams," which was subscribed for (£150) by Birmingham as the town weddinggift to the prince and princess of Wales. Morel-Ladeuil's contract was then renewed for five years, but as a matter of fact he remained with the firm for twenty-three years at their London house, the first result being his masterpiece the "Milton Shield: Paradise Lost" (in repousse steel and silver), which was the sensation of the Paris Exhibition. It was bought by the English government for £3000, and thousands of copies made by "galvanoplastie" or electrotype were sold and spread all over the world. Then after "The Months" came another masterpiece, the "Helicon Vase," in steel, silver, and gold, priced at £6000, which in course of time was presented by the ladies and gentlemen of the royal house to Queen Victoria on her first jubilee. For the Philadelphia Exhibition (1876) MorelLadeuil produced "A Pompeian Lady at her Toilet," following it in 1878 with the "Bunyan Shield," a companion to the Milton. After putting forth his reliefs "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Merchant of Venice," and "Much Ado about Nothing," in view of his failing health he retired to Boulogne, where he died of angina pectoris on the 15th of March 1888, and was buried with much ceremony at Clermont-Ferrand. His total work, apart from the productions of his youth, numbers 35 pieces, which richly reveal his elegant and refined fancy and grace, his feeling for correct and dainty ornament, and his love of pure art marked by an elevated if rather sentimental taste and a noble style.

The following paragraphs from Yellow fever in Barcelona - Barcelona blog - Barcelona food ... provide the background. 
In the centre of Poble Nou Cemetery is a monument to the victims of the outbreak of yellow fever in Barcelona in 1821. The disease was brought by a boat from Cuba. The epidemic first hit the poor areas, and then the rest of the city. It is thought that at least 20,000 inhabitants died from the disease, that is a sixth of the total population (120,000). To the north, the French authorities took emergency measures by cutting off land and maritime borders and blocking French ports to Catalan vessels and defining a quarantine line along the Pyrenean border patrolled by 15,000 soldiers.

A French medical team including six physicians and two nuns was sent to Barcelona to provide assistance. Long after the epidemic had receded, the Pyrenean quarantine line was maintained by the French authorities for a hidden political purpose: Paris wished to contain Spanish Liberalism, a “revolutionary pest”. French troops engaged in the so-called quarantine line were used in 1823 to invade Spain, while French physicians returning to Paris were celebrated as heroes and benefactors of mankind although they had not provided any serious contribution to the therapeutics or the epidemiology of yellow fever. They were glorified in publications of the time. This unexpected manifestation of nationalism was welcomed and encouraged by the government of Louis XVIII who felt himself threatened by the liberal opposition.

There is an oil painting as shown here, by Henri Auguste Cesar Serrur (1794-1865) titled La Mort de Mazet which was painted in 1861. It is in Musée des Beaux Arts de Cambrai.

The events, including the death of Mazet, "Mort de Mazet", are also depicted in a set of engravings kindly made available on the Internet at Léon-François Hoffmann, LA PESTE À BARCELONE. En marge de l ...  where larger images of those below can be seen.

It is not known whether there are multiple copies of the snuff box or if this was a single example. Other similar snuff boxes signed Morel are known, as shown here. The one on the left was offered for sale on eBay and that on the right offered for sale by Trinity Antiques on Ruby Lane, and described as "The high carat gilded medallion depicts Jesus Christ being delicately tended and lifted from the tomb. This medal was sculpted by one of the Morel brothers, famous for their quality. The detail is very fine. We can see the crown of thorns removed on the ground. Alongside are the nails and pliers. A cherub bathes Jesus's feet whilst the other two tend his upper body wounds. The words JESUS-CHRIST AU TOMBEAU (Jesus Christ Without The Tomb) surround the scene and below the arrows MOREL.F."

The third example has a portrait of George Washington and was offered for sale by 1411

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