Râpe à tabac avec l'Arbre de Jessé

Tobacco Grater with Tree of Jesse

mid 18th century



Dimensions (HxWxD): H. 7 1116

incised and blackened on scrolls at the top and bottom: LA PURTE FAIT MON ESTIME / DE GLOIRE ET D'HONNEUR LE CIEL MENVIRONNE (I esteem purity; the sky surrounds me with glory and honor)
inscribed on the edge of the reverse: JE SVIS CETTE RASPE CVRIEVZE DE QVI CHACHVN. EST AMOVREVEX. ON ME FLERE LON ME CARESSE ET SOVENT JE SERS DE DIVERTISEMENT ENTRE LES MAINS DE MON MESTRE (I am this curious rasp of whom everyone is enamored. One sniffs me, one caresses me, and often I am a pleasure in the hands of my owner.)
inscribed in ink on the reverse: A 185/BA
inscribed in ink on the reverse: W 247c 99c
on a paper label: 154

Acc. No.: 71.328

Credit Line: Acquired by Henry Walters, 1924

Photo credit: The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore


  • Paris
  • 1924, Baltimore, Henry Walters (1848-1931), by purchase
  • 1931, Walters Art Museum, by bequest


  • Museum's website (accessed April 28, 2021)


  • Museum's website (accessed April 28, 2021):
    The face of the grater is carved in low relief with the Tree of Jesse, illustrating the descent of Christ from the royal line of David. Jesse reclines asleep amid the roots of the tree. Flanking the trunk are two winged putti representing Virtues. One, on the left, bears scales and a trumpet, and the other, on the right, holds a cornucopia and a sword. Above the bifurcation of the trunk, the Virgin, holding the Infant Christ, stands on the crescent moon. Two adoring cherubs kneel on boughs at the Virgin's feet; cherubs holding the crown hover overhead. The kings are placed among leafy branches. Nine of them hold scepters, while the tenth, David, plays his harp. At the top hovers the dove of the Holy Ghost, flanked by the sun and the moon.
    The concave reverse of the grater is grooved and fitted with a central flange to accommodate a metal grate.
    This tobacco grater differs in form from those associated with Dieppe in that it lacks a compartment to collect the grated snuff.