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Snuffbox

  • Place of origin:

    Meissen (made)
    Dresden (box - probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1750 (made)
    1850-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (box maker)
    Meissen porcelain factory (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, hard-paste porcelain, rubies, emeralds and diamonds

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.524-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 72, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 8, shelf 6

The simplicity of the goldsmith's work makes the dating of this snuffbox difficult, however the cut and setting of the stones in the floral thumbpiece (used to open the box) suggest that it dates from the second half of the 19th century. The box was made to provide a setting for the earlier porcelain plaque, produced at Meissen around 1750.

Snuffboxes made 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 least expensive 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

Rectangular gold snuffbox with plain bombe walls and plain base, the cover set with a hard-paste porcelain plaque, painted on the outside with two shepherdesses and a shepherd in a landscape, and on the inside with the bath of Venus, within a reeded border. The scrolling floral thumbpiece is set with rubies, emeralds and diamonds.

Place of Origin

Meissen (made)
Dresden (box - probably, made)

Date

ca. 1750 (made)
1850-1900 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (box maker)
Meissen porcelain factory (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Gold, hard-paste porcelain, rubies, emeralds and diamonds

Marks and inscriptions

Mark for gold imported from countries without Customs Conventions with France, June 1, 1893 onwards
On the left bezel

Dimensions

Length: 9.3 cm, Width: 7.9 cm, Height: 4 cm

Object history note

Provenance: S.J. Phillips, London.

Descriptive line

Gold set with a Meissen porcelain plaque, Germany, ca.1750, the gold box probably German ca. 1850-1900

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

Truman, Charles.The Gilbert collection of gold boxes, volume II, London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd., 1999, cat. no. 34, p. 58. ISBN.0856675210

Labels and date

6. Snuffbox with shepherdesses and
shepherd
Box: 1850–1900. Plaque: about 1750

The simplicity of the goldsmith’s work makes the dating of this snuffbox difficult. However, the cut and setting of the stones in the floral thumbpiece (used to open the box) suggest it may date from around 1850 to 1900. The box was made to provide a setting for the earlier porcelain plaque on the cover.

Box: Probably Germany
Plaque: Meissen, Germany
Hard-paste porcelain, enamel colours and gold
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.524-2008 [16/11/2016]
Snuffbox with shepherdesses and shepherd
Box: 1850–1900. Plaque: about 1750

The simplicity of the goldsmith’s work make the dating
of this snuffbox difficult. But the cut and setting of the
stones in the floral thumbpiece (used to open the box)
suggest 1850–1900. The box was made to provide a
setting for the earlier porcelain plaque on the cover.

Box: Probably Germany
Plaque: Meissen, Germany
Hard-paste porcelain, enamel colours and gold
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.524-2008 [2009]

Production Note

The box probably German 1850-1900, the porcelain plaque by Meissen ca. 1750

Materials

Gold; Porcelain; Ruby; Emerald; Diamond

Techniques

Mounting; Painting (image-making); Stone setting

Subjects depicted

Shepherdess; Goat; Landscape; Shepherd

Categories

Containers; Metalwork; Plaques & Plaquettes; Porcelain; Personal accessories; Myths & Legends

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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