Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (box, made)
    Rome (mosaic, made)

  • Date:

    1812-17 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Micromosaic, tortoiseshell, gold, wood and silver.

  • 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 DU2

This charming box, in the shape of a book, was probably made as a souvenir. It depicts the famous mosaic, The Capitoline Doves. The mosaic, discovered in 1737 in the Emperor Hadrian's villa at Tivoli dates from the 2nd century AD. It was a popular representation in micromosaic in the 18th and 19th centuries. The box was produced in Paris and the mosaic in Rome.

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 box shaped like a book with a rectangular, gold-framed micromosaic on the hinged lid depicting four doves perched on the edge of a basin of water. The spine has five narrow, regularly spaced bands of gold with an oval gold plaque between the top two, engraved DE L'ESPRIT, and a shield-shaped gold plaque with the initials RF between the second and third bands. The interior is lined with tortoiseshell.

Place of Origin

Paris (box, made)
Rome (mosaic, made)


1812-17 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Micromosaic, tortoiseshell, gold, wood and silver.


Length: 10.6 cm, Width: 6.6 cm, Height: 2.1 cm

Object history note

Provenance: James Robinson, New York, 1974.

Descriptive line

Micromosaic, tortoiseshell, gold, wood, Rome and France, 1800-25

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

Gabriel, Jeanette Hanisee with contributions by Anna Maria Massinelli and essays by Judy Rudoe and Massimo Alfieri. Micromosaics: The Gilbert Collection. London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd. in association with The Gilbert Collection, 2000. 310 p., ill. Cat. no. 122, p. 191. ISBN 0856675113.

Labels and date

4. Bonbonnière in the form of a book, with Doves of Pliny, 1812–17

Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.947-2008 [16/11/2016]

Production Note

Maker's mark J.D. Dehanne (active 1812-17).


Mosaic glass; Tortoise shell; Gold; Wood; Silver


Micromosaic; Lining (process)


Containers; Metalwork; Personal accessories


Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.