Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.


  • Place of origin:

    Augsburg (possibly, made)
    Berlin (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca.1750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, tortoiseshell, ivory, mother-of-pearl, lapis lazuli, malachite

  • 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 4, shelf 8

This tortoiseshell box, which depicts putti playing in a fountain, is set with a number of precious materials. The scrolling pilasters and stylised shells are rendered in gold, the putti are depicted in ivory and mother of pearl is used for the fountain. Lapis lazuli and malachite add colour to the scene. The rococo ornament upon this box can be associated with artists working in Southern Germany, particularly Bavaria. However, the movement of styles and artists in this period makes it quite possible that the box was made in Berlin.

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

Cartouche-shaped snuffbox of tortoiseshell, mounted and lined gold, ivory, mother of pearl, lapis lazuli and malachite, depicting on the cover two putti with a fountain, amid scrolling pilasters and stylised shells; around the walls, further putti appear in reserves enclosed by Rococo ornament, the base engraved with a gold rocaille, the reeded mount with shell and scroll thumbpiece.

Place of Origin

Augsburg (possibly, made)
Berlin (possibly, made)


ca.1750 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Gold, tortoiseshell, ivory, mother-of-pearl, lapis lazuli, malachite

Marks and inscriptions

No marks


Length: 7.8 cm, Width: 6.2 cm, Height: 3.35 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Christie's, Geneva, 11 May 1982, lot 183. Wartski, London. Sotheby's, Geneva, 18-19 November 1996, lot 283. S.J. Phillips, London.

Descriptive line

Snuffbox, gold, tortoiseshell, ivory, mother of pearl, lapis lazuli and malachite, Germany ca.1750

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. 15, p. 33. ISBN.0856675210

Labels and date

Snuffbox with putti by a fountain
About 1750

Possibly Augsburg or Berlin, Germany
Gold, tortoiseshell, ivory, mother-of-pearl,
lapis lazuli and malachite
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.424-2008 [2009]

Production Note

Probably Augsburg or Berlin


Gold; Tortoise shell; Ivory; Mother of pearl; Lapis lazuli; Malachite


Mounting; Chasing; Setting; Engraving (incising)

Subjects depicted

Fountain; Shells; Putti; Pilasters; Rocaille


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.