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Snuffbox

  • Place of origin:

    St Petersburg (Russia) (made)
    Constantinople (enamelled)

  • Date:

    ca. 1800 (made)
    ca.1831 (enamelled)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Théremin, Pierre-Etienne (box maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engine-turned gold, diamonds, enamel, glazed miniature

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.348-2008

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Presentation gifts such as gold boxes were often adapted
when the gift was passed on. This box was probably a
Russian gift to a Sultan, which originally held a portrait of the Tsar. The Tsar was later replaced by a portrait of Mahmud II, when the latter gave the box to someone else, possibly a member of the Hohenzollern family. The base is painted with a view of the Rumeli Hisari fortress on the western shore of the Bosphorus in Istanbul. This box is attributed to Pierre-Etienne Théremin, who became a court jeweller to the empress in the closing years of the 18th century.

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, jewelled, enamelled gold snuffbox with canted corners, the cover and walls profusely set with sprays of diamond foliage, the cover set with a glazed miniature of Mahmud II and the base with a painted scene of Rumeli Hisari on the Bosporous.

Place of Origin

St Petersburg (Russia) (made)
Constantinople (enamelled)

Date

ca. 1800 (made)
ca.1831 (enamelled)

Artist/maker

Théremin, Pierre-Etienne (box maker)

Materials and Techniques

Engine-turned gold, diamonds, enamel, glazed miniature

Marks and inscriptions

No marks

Dimensions

Length: 8.2 cm, Width: 6.2 cm, Height: 2.7 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Prince Oscar of Prussia, 1946. Princess Hohenzollern. S. J. Phillips, London.

Descriptive line

Rectangular snuffbox with Mahmud II, Sultan of Turkey. Gold, diamonds, enamel, glazed miniature. Box: St. Petersburg, 1800, miniature: Constantinople, ca. 1831

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

Illustrated London News, February 2nd, 1946, p. 128.
Truman, Charles.The Gilbert collection of gold boxes, Vol. I. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1991, cat. no. 132, pp. 380-2. ISBN.0875871623
Zech, Heike. Gold Boxes. Masterpieces from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection. London: V&A Publishing, 2015, pp. 130-131, no. 47. ISBN 987-1-85177-840-9

Labels and date

6. Snuffbox, about 1800, with miniature of Mahmud II, Sultan of Turkey, about 1831

Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.348-2008 [16/11/2016]
Snuffbox with Mahmud II, Sultan of Turkey
Box: about 1800. Miniature: about 1831

Presentation gifts such as gold boxes were often adapted
when the gift was passed on. This box was probably a
Russian gift to a Sultan, which originally held a portrait
of the Tsar. The Tsar was later replaced by a portrait of
Mahmud II, when the latter gave the box to someone else,
possibly a member of the Hohenzollern family. The base
is painted with a view of the Rumeli Hisari fortress on the
western shore of the Bosphorus in Istanbul.

Box: St Petersburg, Russia; probably Pierre-Etienne
Théremin (active in St Petersburg 1793–1802)
Miniature: Constantinople, Turkey;
probably Giovanni Marras (active 1801–30)
Engine-turned gold, enamel, diamonds and glazed miniature
Formerly in the collection of Prince Oscar of Prussia
and the Princess Hohenzollern
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.348-2008 [2009]

Production Note

Miniature probably by Giovanni Marras (active 1801-30).

Materials

Gold; Diamond; Enamel; Glass

Techniques

Engine turning; Setting; Enamelling; Painting; Enamelling

Subjects depicted

Seascape; Landscape; Foliage; Castle; Sailing ship

Categories

Metalwork; Personal accessories; Portraits; Containers; Enamels

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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