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  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1761 (painted)
    ca. 1870 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    van Blarenberghe family (painters (artists))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, glazed gouache (watercolour) miniatures

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 72, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 2, shelf DU3

This 1870 snuffbox is set with earlier miniatures. The scene of fireworks over the Seine in Paris and the theatre interior were painted by a member of the van Blarenberghe family in 1761. The van Blarenberghe family originated in Leyden but moved to Paris in 1751. At least five members of the family were painters of miniatures but as they rarely signed either their first name or initials, their work is difficult to attribute.

There was no known firework display in Paris in 1761 but the van Blarenberghes often used historical engravings. The scene may therefore show one of the great displays earlier in the century - perhaps celebrating the birth of the Dauphin in 1730 or the recovery from illness of the King in 1744.

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, varicoloured gold snuffbox, the cover and base set with gouache (watercolour) miniatures under glass, the cover depicting a fireworks display on the Seine

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


1761 (painted)
ca. 1870 (made)


van Blarenberghe family (painters (artists))

Materials and Techniques

Gold, glazed gouache (watercolour) miniatures

Marks and inscriptions

Unidentified mark of a nineteenth century French goldsmith
On the right side of the bezel

Third standard mark for gold , France, May 10, 1838-June 30, 1918
On the right side of the bezel

Signed 'v. Blarenberghe / 1761'
On the miniature on the cover


Length: 8.3 cm, Width: 6.1 cm, Height: 3.1 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Miniatures only: Prince Anatole Demidoff, sale, Paris, lot. 33, January 13-16, 1863. Miniatures only: M. Cambacérès. The Box: Christie's, Geneva, lot. 168, November 17, 1981. S. J. Phillips, London.

Descriptive line

Gold snuffbox, with glazed watercolour miniatures by a member of the van Blarenberghe family; Paris, about 1870.

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

Bénézit, Emmanuel-Charles. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculptures, dessinateurs et graveurs de tous le temps et de tous les pays, 11 vols. rev. ed. Paris 1976 (II, 74).
Habsburg-Lothringen, Géza von. Gold boxes from the collection of Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert. R. & A. Gilbert, 1983, 125 p., ill. Cat no. 68, pp. 123-4. ISBN. 0961039809.
Truman, Charles.The Gilbert collection of gold boxes, Vol. I. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1991. cat. no. 53, pp. 161-3. ISBN.0875871623
Zech, Heike. Gold Boxes. Masterpieces from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection. London: V&A Publishing, 2015, pp. 34-35, figs 15-16. ISBN 987-1-85177-840-9

Labels and date

7. Snuffbox, about 1870, with fireworks miniature, 1761

Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.360-2008 [16/11/2016]
Snuffbox with fireworks miniature
Mounts: about 1870. Miniatures: 1761

This box was made to hold two earlier miniatures from
the collection of the Russian businessman and collector
Anatole Demidoff (1813–70), which were sold at auction
in 1863.

Paris, France; miniatures by a member
of the Van Blarenberghe family,
cover miniature signed and dated 1761
Gold and glazed miniatures
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.360-2008 [2009]


Gold; Glass; Gouache


Chasing; Painting

Subjects depicted

Flowers; Swags; Cartouche; Theatre set; Celebration; Costume; Audience; Fireworks (visual works); Ropework; Audience; Boats; River Seine


Metalwork; Jewellery; Containers; Personal accessories


Metalwork Collection

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