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Snuffbox

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1714 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Chased, engraved and inlaid gold, carved tortoiseshell (probably from hawksbill turtle) and glazed miniature

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.314-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 72, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 1, shelf 1

This box bears the monogram 'FE' for Felipe V and Elisabetta Farnese. Inside the lid is the miniature portrait of Felipe Bourbon (1683-1746). Brought up as Philippe, Duc d'Anjou, he was proclaimed by his grandfather the French king, Louis XIV, as king of Spain in 1700. He succeeded his great-uncle Charles II and reigned as Felipe V until 1724 when he abdicated in favour of his son Louis. After Louis's premature death from smallpox only eight months after taking the throne, Felipe resumed his reign until his death in 1746.

The underside of the box is decorated with symbols of love - a quiver of arrows, a burning torch, a pair of doves and a flaming heart. The box was a romantic gift from Felipe to Elisabetta Farnese of Parma, whom Felipe married in 1714.

Taking snuff (powdered tobacco) became a fashionable pursuit in the early years of the eighteenth century. Ladies and gentlemen would offer each other snuff from rich, elegant boxes in the latest styles.

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 cartouche-shaped, gold-mounted tortoiseshell snuffbox, the cover pique with a crowned, reversed monogram FE within a border of scrolling foliate strapwork, the base with a trophy of love within a similar border. The gold walls are chased and engraved with scenes of hunting, shooting, and emblems of love in landscapes on a matted ground. The interior of the lid is set with a portrait of Philip V of Spain, turned three-quarters to the left, standing under a red velvet canopy of estate. The king wears a powdered wig, blue jacket, steel breastplate, and red cloak. On his breastplate are the Order of the Golden Fleece and the sash of the Order of the Holy Ghost. In his proper right hand is a baton, and a crown rests on a cushion beside him.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)

Date

ca. 1714 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Chased, engraved and inlaid gold, carved tortoiseshell (probably from hawksbill turtle) and glazed miniature

Marks and inscriptions

Monogram 'FE'
On the cover

Fleur-de-lis discharge mark
On the left side of the bezel

Restricted warranty mark for gold, Paris, May 10, 1838-onward
On the left side of the bezel

Dimensions

Length: 7 cm, Width: 5.3 cm, Height: 1.9 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Christie's, Geneva, lot 390, November 10, 1987.

Descriptive line

Snuffbox with reversed monogram FE with miniature of Philip V of Spain inside. Gold, tortoiseshell, glazed miniature. Paris, ca.1714

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

Truman, Charles.The Gilbert collection of gold boxes, Vol. I. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1991, cat. no.1, pp. 30-31. ISBN.0875871623
Schroder, Timothy, ed. The Gilbert Collection at the V&A. London (V&A Publishing) 2009, p. 51, plate 33. ISBN9781851775934
Zech, Heike. 'Gold boxes in the Gilbert Collection at the V & A'. In : Art Antiques London. Catalogue of Art Antiques London, incorporating The International Ceramics Fair & Seminar, 10 June - 16 June 2010. London: Haughton International Fairs, 2010, p.12, ill.
Zech, Heike. Gold Boxes. Masterpieces from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection. London: V&A Publishing, 2015, pp. 32-33, no. 1. ISBN 987-1-85177-840-9

Labels and date

1. Snuffbox with monogram of Philip V
of Spain and Elisabetta Farnese
About 1714

Symbols of love on the base of this box and the monogram ‘FE’ on its cover tell us this was a gift from Felipe (Philip V) to his second wife, Elisabetta, whom he married in December 1714. A miniature of the king is mounted inside the lid.

Paris, France
Gold, tortoiseshell and glazed miniature
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.314-2008 [16/11/2016]
Snuffbox with monogram of Philip V of Spain and Elisabetta Farnese
About 1714

The symbols of love on the base and the monogram FE
on the cover show that this was a gift from Felipe (Philip
V) to his second wife, whom he married in December
1714. A miniature of the king is mounted inside the lid.

Paris, France
Gold, tortoiseshell and glazed miniature
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.314-2008 [2009]

Materials

Gold; Tortoise shell; Glass

Techniques

Chasing; Engraving (incising); Inlay (process); Carving; Painting (image-making)

Subjects depicted

Quiver; Dogs; Shooting; Order of the Holy Ghost; Doves; Landscape; Arrow; Order of the Golden Fleece; Hunting; Strapwork; Crown

Categories

Metalwork; Containers; Portraits; Personal accessories

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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