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  • Place of origin:

    London (probably, chased)

  • Date:

    ca. 1720 (chased)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Burel (chaser)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, raised and chased

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On short term loan out for exhibition

Delayed by unfavourable winds on his way to the Trojan War, the Greek general Agamemnon prepared to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to appease the goddess Diana. This version of the scene from Ovid's Metamorphoses derives from an engraving by François Chauveau, published in Paris in 1676. In Ovid's account Diana subsituted a stag for Iphigenia at the last moment and took her away to be a priestess. Symbols of the four elements (earth, air, fire and water) appear on the sides of the box.

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

Rectangular gold snuffbox, the cover finely chased and depicting the sacrifice of Iphigenia to the goddess Diana, bordered by reeded gold and four trellised cartouches, the walls chased with birds and a dog in landscapes with strapwork and foliage, the base with a cartouche enclosing a later engraved crest, a pelican's head erased, vulning herself, ducally gorged, and the motto "IN SANGUINE VITA", flanked by birds and animals on a matted ground.

Place of Origin

London (probably, chased)


ca. 1720 (chased)


Burel (chaser)

Materials and Techniques

Gold, raised and chased

Marks and inscriptions

Pelican's head erased, vulning herself, ducally gorged, with motto 'IN SANGUINE VITA'
In the blood the life
Engraved with crest and motto of the Cobbe family, Hampshire.

Signature of chaser, Burel, on the front edge of the cover, beneath the figure scene


Length: 8.7 cm, Width: 6.6 cm, Height: 2.6 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Lord Wharton, London. Wartski, London.

Descriptive line

Rectangular gold snuffbox with sacrifice of Iphigenia. Gold, London, ca.1720, mark of Burel

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

Tait, Hugh. 'An Anonymous Loan to the British Museum, 2: Eighteenth Century Gold Boxes'. The Connoisseur, Vol. 154, December 1963, pp. 219-20, figs. 3-4.
Le Corbeiller, Clare. European and American snuffboxes, 1730-1830. New York: Viking Press, 1966, nos. 273-274.
Truman, Charles.The Gilbert Collection of Gold Boxes, Vol. I. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1991, cat. no. 95, pp. 282-3. ISBN.0875871623




Raising; Chasing


Containers; Metalwork; Personal accessories


Metalwork Collection

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