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Snuffbox

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1789-1790s (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Blerzy, Joseph-Etienne (box maker)
    Villar (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold and <i>verre églomisé</i> (glass painted to resemble enamel)

  • Credit Line:

    The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.370-2008

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Verre églomisé is a relatively rare form of decoration for gold boxes. It involves gilding the back of a glass panel and engraving the gold with a decorative design. The reverse of the glass is then painted and the panels applied to the box over gold or silver foil.

These panels are similar to a set signed by Villar on a box of the same date. They show scenes from the history of Rome and in the corners, allegorical figures representing the four rivers of the Roman Empire. On the cover, the family of the Roman general Coriolanus beseech him to call off his attack on the city. The designs are taken from engravings by Jean-Guillaume Moitte.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world’s great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.

Physical description

Rectangular, gold-mounted verre églomisé snuffbox with canted corners set with ten panels of glass gilded on the reverse and painted in red with scenes from the history of Rome.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)

Date

1789-1790s (made)

Artist/maker

Blerzy, Joseph-Etienne (box maker)
Villar (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Gold and verre églomisé (glass painted to resemble enamel)

Marks and inscriptions

Mark of Joseph-Etienne Blerzy
In the lid, in the base, and in the left wall

Paris marks ca. 1789-1796
In the lid, in the base, and in the left wall

Dimensions

Length: 7.7 cm, Width: 6.1 cm, Height: 1.6 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Félix Doisteau, 1928. Baroness Caroline Rulle, sale, Sotheby's, London, lot 133, March 6, 1967. Ortiz-Patino Collection, sale, Christie's, London, part 3, lot 9, June 26, 1974. Wartski, London.

Descriptive line

Snuffbox with scenes from the History of Rome. Gold and glass, Joseph-Etienne Blerzy, Paris, 1789-90s

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

Allemagne, Henri-René d'. Les accessoires du costume et du mobilier depuis le trezième jusque'au milieu du dix-neuvième siècle, Vol. I. Paris, 1928, pl. CVII, nos. 4 -5.
Snowman, A. Kenneth. Eighteenth Century gold boxes of Paris, London: Robson Books, 1974, no. 63. ISBN 09038
Habsburg-Lothringen, Géza von. Gold boxes from the collection of Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert. R. & A. Gilbert, 1983. 125 p., ill. Cat no. 57. ISBN. 0961039809.
Snowman, A. Kenneth. Eighteenth century gold boxes of Europe, rev. ed., Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club, 1990, pls. 485-87. ISBN 1851490728
Truman, Charles.The Gilbert collection of gold boxes, Vol. I. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1991, cat. no. 36, pp. 117-20. ISBN.0875871623
Schroder, Timothy, ed. The Gilbert Collection at the V&A. London (V&A Publishing) 2009, pl. 38, p. 55. ISBN 9781851775934
68
Schroder, Timothy. Gold boxes : from the Gilbert collection : an exhibition, Los Angeles : Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1986
52
Snowman, Kenneth A., A loan exhibition of eighteenth century gold boxes, London : Wartski, 1990

Labels and date

10. Snuffbox with scenes from Roman
history
1789–90s

This snuffbox uses the technique of verre églomisé, named after Jean-Baptiste Glomy (died 1786). Gold leaf is applied to the back of glass. The design is then scratched through and unwanted areas of gold removed. A ground colour of red has been painted on the back of the glass. This box shows the family of Coriolanus begging him not to attack Rome.

Paris, France; mark of Joseph-Etienne Blerzy (active 1768–1808), cover scene by ‘Villar’ (active about 1789) after Jean-Guillaume Moitte (1746–1810)
Gold and glass
Formerly in the Ortiz-Patiño Collection
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.370-2008 [16/11/2016]
Snuffbox with scenes from Roman history
1789–90s

In the technique of verre églomisé, named after Jean-
Baptiste Glomy (died 1786), gold leaf is applied to the
back of glass. The design is scratched through and
unwanted areas of gold removed. A ground colour, red,
has been painted on the back of the glass.

Paris, France; mark of Joseph-Etienne Blerzy
(active 1768–1808),
cover scene by Villar (active about 1789)
after Jean-Guillaume Moitte (1746–1810) showing
Coriolanus’ family begging him not to sack Rome
Gold and glass
Formerly in the Ortiz-Patiño Collection
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.370-2008 [2009]

Production Note

Cover scene by Villar after Jean-Guillaume Moitte

Materials

Gold; Glass

Techniques

Chasing; Verre églomisé

Subjects depicted

Classicism; Classical figures; Reeding; Allegory

Categories

Metalwork; Containers; Personal accessories; Myths & Legends

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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