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Snuff box

Snuff box

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Gribelin, Simon (engraver)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Claude D. Rotch

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Silver, Room 65, The Whiteley Galleries, case 24

A silver-gilt box for small toiletries, the top engraved with scenes from the Toilet of Venus with French inscriptions, personalized with a Baron's coronet and entwined initials and signed by Simon Gribelin, who preserved copies of the engraving in an album which he compiled in 1722 now in the British Museum. The maker of the box is not recorded, but Simon Gribelin was a Huguenot refugee engraver from Blois, France, who settled in London in 1681. The box was part of the collection of silver bequeathed to the V&A by Claude Rotch in 1961

Physical description

Oval box, the hinged lid engraved in the centre with a cypher surmounted by a baron's coronet flanked by four scenes from classical mythology with appropriate inscriptions in French. Above is the reclining figure of Venus in her chariot drawn by dove with above Cupid shooting arrows from a bow with the inscription 'QUI PEUT LUY RESISTER'; to the left is the Judgement of Paris with the inscription 'A LA PLUS BELLE'; to the right the Three Graces attending Venus who is admiring herself in a mirror with the inscription 'SEULLES DIGNES DE LA SERVIR' and below Cupid led by a dog on a lead with the inscription 'LA FIDELITE ME CONDUIT' signed on either side 'SIM GRIB'. The gilded surface is very worn revealing the silver beneath.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


ca. 1700 (made)


Gribelin, Simon (engraver)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions

Who can resist him; To the most beautiful; Alone worthy to serve her; Led by loyalty; Simon Gribelin
The inscriptions are commentaries on the mythological and fancy scenes engraved by Simon Gribelin


Town mark: NONE

A within the Garter ribband surmounted by a ducal coronet
Engraved on the underside of the box; this records the ownership of Frederick Augustus, Duke of Sussex.


:, Width: 8.5 cm, Height: 13 cm

Object history note

Bequeathed by Claude D Rotch
Acquisition RF: 61 / 3157
Exhibitions: The Quiet Conquest, Museum of London, May - November, 1985, No. 379, p.256
William & Mary, Bank of England, June - October 1989

Historical context note

The theme of the engravings and inscriptions illustrates the Toilet of Venus and suggests that this much used box was intended to house some accessories associated with the female toilet, perhaps patches rather than comfits or snuff.

Descriptive line

A silver-gilt snuff box engraved with mythological and fancy subjects by Simon Gribelin

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Exhibited The Quiet Conquest: The Huguenots 1685-1985, Museum of London, 1985 no.379, p.256; William and Mary, The Bank of England, June-October 1989.
Charles Oman, English Engraved Silver, 1150-1900 (London 1978)p.75 illustrating a pull from the top of this box in an album entitled 'Livre D'Estampes de Sim.Gribelin fait Relië à Londre 1722'


Silver; Gold leaf


Engraving; Raising

Subjects depicted

Judgement; Beauty


Myths & Legends; Accessories; Silver


Metalwork Collection

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