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Snuffbox

  • Place of origin:

    Meissen (made)
    France (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1755 (made)
    19th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold-mounted enamelled porcelain

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.500-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 72, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 8, shelf 5

This box is part of a small group of Meissen boxes made in the shape of envelopes. The plain exterior conceals a well-executed painting inside of a musical entertainment beside the river Elbe. Albrechtsburg, the castle outside Dresden, is visible behind. Meissen porcelain was manufactured at the castle, which made it an appropriate and popular view. The box may thus have been intended as a souvenir. Whilst the porcelain was produced at Meissen in around 1755, the mounts were manufactured much later, in France during the nineteenth century.

Snuffboxes made out of porcelain followed the shapes of those made in gold and hardstones. Painted scenes or portraits ornamented the sides, covers and interiors. Changing forms and decoration were important, as these fashion accessories might be chosen to match the season or a particular costume. Most European (though rarely English) porcelain factories made snuffboxes. The largest producer was Meissen in Germany, which manufactured vast quantities of boxes from about 1735-65. A price list of 1765 mentions 11 varieties, the cheapest painted with flowers.

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, gold-mounted porcelain snuffbox in the form of a sealed letter, the cover painted in black with an inscription, scrolls and foliage. The interior of the cover is painted in enamel colours with a musical fête champêtre beside the Elbe with Albrechtsburg in the background. Inside the base is enamelled a blue diaper pattern enclosing crosses. The plain gold mount has twin flairing thumbpieces.

Place of Origin

Meissen (made)
France (made)

Date

ca. 1755 (made)
19th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Gold-mounted enamelled porcelain

Marks and inscriptions

à Celui qui le Merite,
To the one who deserves it
on lid

Dimensions

Height: 2.8 cm, Width: 10.2 cm, Depth: 7.6 cm, Weight: 240 g

Object history note

Provenance: Timothy B. Schroder, London.

Descriptive line

A rectangular, gold-mounted porcelain snuffbox in the form of a sealed letter, the cover painted in black with an inscription, the interior of the cover is painted in enamel colours with a musical fête champêtre beside the Elbe with Albrechtsburg in the background.

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. 89, pp. 264-6. ISBN.0875871623

Labels and date

5. Letter-shaped snuffbox with view of
Saxony
Box: about 1755. Mounts: 1800–1900

The plain exterior of this snuffbox conceals a painting inside of a fête champêtre, a musical outdoor entertainment, happening beside the river Elbe. The Albrechtsburg, the castle where Meissen porcelain was manufactured, can be seen in the background. The box may have been intended as a souvenir.
Box: Meissen, Germany
Mounts: France
Hard-paste porcelain, enamel colours and gold
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.500-2008 [16/11/2016]
Letter-shaped snuffbox with view of Saxony
Box: about 1755. Mounts: 1800–1900
The plain exterior conceals a well-executed painting inside of a musical entertainment beside the river Elbe. Albrechtsburg, the castle outside Dresden, is visible behind. Meissen porcelain was manufactured at the castle, which made it an appropriate and popular view.
The box may have been intended as a souvenir.
Box: Meissen, Germany
Mounts: France
Hard-paste porcelain, enamel colours and gold
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.500-2008 [2009]

Production Note

The porcelain, Meissen, c. 1755; the mounts, France, nineteenth century

Materials

Porcelain; Enamel; Gold

Techniques

Enamelled

Subjects depicted

Fête Champêtre; Castle; Diaper-work; Seals

Categories

Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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