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  • Snuffbox
    Vachette, Adrien-Jean-Maximilien, born 1753 - died 1839
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (marked)

  • Date:

    1809-1819 (marked)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Vachette, Adrien-Jean-Maximilien, born 1753 - died 1839 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engine-turned gold set with tortoiseshell panels

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The tortoiseshell panels are taken from an earlier box, probably made around 1720. They form a curious mixture of Chinese and Roman figures, typical of the period when interest in the East, manifested as Chinoiserie, combined with the classical Baroque ornament favoured at the court of Louis XV. The decoration is formed used two techniques: piqué, in which tiny points of gold are set into the tortoiseshell, and encrusté, in which gold or silver plates are inlaid under pressure onto the heated shell.

Adrien-Jean-Maximilien Vachette made this box for the firm of Ouizille and Lemoine. It is characteristic of Vachette's desire to use unusual materials to decorate his boxes.

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

A rectangular, engine-turned gold box, the cover and base set with blonde tortoishell panels depicting Roman soldiers and oriental figures.

Place of Origin

Paris (marked)


1809-1819 (marked)


Vachette, Adrien-Jean-Maximilien, born 1753 - died 1839 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Engine-turned gold set with tortoiseshell panels


Length: 8 cm, Width: 6 cm, Height: 2.2 cm

Object history note

Provenance: D.S Lavender, London.

Descriptive line

Snuffbox with Roman soldiers and oriental figures. Gold, tortoiseshell. Adrien-Jean-Maximillien Vachette for Ouizillle and Lemoine, Paris, 1809-19

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

Habsburg-Lothringen, Géza von. Gold boxes from the collection of Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert. R. & A. Gilbert, 1983. 125 p., ill. Cat no. 63, p. 114. ISBN.0961039809.
Truman, Charles.The Gilbert collection of gold boxes, Vol. I. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1991, cat. no. 38, pp. 124-5. ISBN.0875871623

Labels and date

2. Snuffbox with figures in ancient Roman and Chinese dress, 1809–19

Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.1031-2008 [16/11/2016]

Production Note

Adrien-Jean-Maximilien Vachette for Ouizille and Lemoine.


Gold; Tortoise shell


Piqué work; Engine turning

Subjects depicted

Crane (bird); Serpent


Metalwork; Containers


Metalwork Collection

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