This lacquerware box was manufactured in the workshop of Johann Heinrich Stobwasser (1740 – 1829), in the German city of Braunschweig, sometime around 1814. It is decorated with an oil and lacquer image of Die Neue Europaeische Barbierstube, which was engraved by the Bavarian satirical artist Johann Michael Voltz (1784 – 1858) in late 1813.
The impact depicts Napoleon being forcibly shaved by (l-r) Alexander I of Russia, Frederick William II of Prussia, and Francis II of Austria. The Emperor wears a bib, which is spattered with blood in Voltz’s original engraving, inscribed with the locations of various French military defeats – “Mailand, Culm, Kazbach, Leipzig, Russland”. Alexander also carries an empty plate labelled ‘1812’ and a white ball – possibly a snowball – which presumably alludes to Napoleon’s ill-fated Russian winter campaign.
The Battle of Leipzig had ended on the 19th October 1813 and is the most recent event referenced in the design. It is likely that Voltz’s engraving was published shortly after the battle and then copied in Stobwasser’s workshop sometime during the winter of 1813/14.
The box measures 2.3 cm x 14.4 cm x 8.8 cm and will be offered up for auction in Germany later this month. It carries an estimate of £1,700 – £2,100.