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Snuffbox

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (marked)

  • Date:

    1747-48 (marked)

  • Artist/Maker:

    de Villers, Claude (maker)
    Vallayer, Joseph (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold panels inlaid with mother of pearl and various other shells mounted in a cagework of enamelled gold.

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.411-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 72, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 1, shelf 4

Claude de Villiers, whose mark appears upon this box, was one of the privileged goldsmiths working directly for the French royal household at the Gobelins factory in Paris. Vallayer may have made the whole box and de Villiers may just have had it assayed, or de Villiers may have made the frame for Vallayer's panels. The box is decorated with a number of mythological and allegorical scenes. Upon the lid, the goddess Minerva is depicted. Minerva was the virgin Roman goddess of warriors, poetry and crafts.

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, each side of which is set with a panel decorated in mother-of-pearl and various other shells with allegorical scenes. On the cover Minerva greets Plenty beneath Victory; on the base is an infant Hermes and two putti with a ship in full sail; the walls depict the Arts and Sciences, mounted in a cagework of gold, enamelled in translucent green with a trailing olive branch.

Place of Origin

Paris (marked)

Date

1747-48 (marked)

Artist/maker

de Villers, Claude (maker)
Vallayer, Joseph (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Gold panels inlaid with mother of pearl and various other shells mounted in a cagework of enamelled gold.

Dimensions

Width: 7.8 cm, Depth: 6 cm, Height: 3.8 cm

Object history note

Provenance: The Ortiz-Patiño Collection of Highly Important Gold Boxes, Part III, sale, Christie's, London, lot 20, 26/06/1974. S.J. Phillips, London, 1995.

Descriptive line

Gold panels inlaid with mother-of-pearl and various other shells, mounted in a cagework of enamelled gold, Paris, 1747-8, Claude de Villers and Joseph Vallayer

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

Snowman, A. Kenneth. Eighteenth Century gold boxes of Paris, London: Robson Books, 1974, no. 45-6. ISBN. 0903895293
Truman, Charles.The Gilbert collection of gold boxes, volume II, London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd., 1999, cat. no. 1, pp. 11-12. ISBN.0856675210
Zech, Heike. 'Goldboxes 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.14, ill.
Zech, Heike. Gold Boxes. Masterpieces from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection. London: V&A Publishing, 2015, pp. 38-39, no. 4. ISBN 987-1-85177-840-9

Labels and date

4. Snuffbox with Minerva and Peace
1747–48

This is an extraordinarily rare example of a box with well-documented royal provenance. A box, probably the one seen here, ‘incrusted on a gold ground representing Peace’, was supplied by Joseph Vallayer to the French royal household in 1749 for 2600 livres.

Paris, France; mark of Claude de Villiers (active 1718–55) and signed by Joseph Vallayer (died 1755)
Gold, enamel, mother-of-pearl, shell and ivory
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.411-2008 [16/11/2016]
Snuffbox with Minerva welcoming Peace
1747–8
Paris, France; mark of Claude de Villiers (active 1718–55) and signed by Joseph Vallayer (died 1755)
Gold, enamel, mother-of-pearl, shell and ivory
Probably the box ‘incrusted on a gold ground representing Peace’ supplied by Vallayer to the French royal household in 1749 at a price of 2600 livres
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.411-2008 [2009]

Production Note

Vallayer may have made the whole box and de Villers may just have had it assayed, or de Villers may have made the frame for Vallayer's panels. Made at Gobelins.

Materials

Gold; Mother of pearl; Shell; Enamel

Techniques

Setting; Inlay (process); Enamelling

Subjects depicted

Olive branch; Paintings; Drawing; Commerce; Busts; Putti; Peace; Allegory; Globes (cartographic spheres); Ship

Categories

Containers; Metalwork; Personal accessories

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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