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  • Place of origin:

    Geneva (probably, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1780 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gold, silver, diamonds, glazed miniatures

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This snuffbox, likely made in Geneva around 1780, features ten miniature rustic genre scenes painted in watercolour and body colour on vellum. Though attributed to a Swiss maker, the box bears marks that attempt to liken it to the finest craftsmanship of the French ancien régime. The miniatures could be of a Swiss or French hand.

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

Octagonal varicoloured gold snuffbox with pilasters at the corners, set with ten miniatures in watercolour and body colour on vellum, under glass, depicting peasants in various idyllic pursuits, mounted in gold chased with scrolls, foliage and swags, and with foliate thumbpiece of diamonds in silver settings.

Place of Origin

Geneva (probably, made)


ca. 1780 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Gold, silver, diamonds, glazed miniatures

Marks and inscriptions

A mark imitating that of a Paris goldsmith
In the lid, on the base and on the left bezel

A mark imitating the charge mark for silver used in Paris in various forms, 1672-1792
In the lid, on the base and on the left bezel

A mark presumably intended to imitate a Paris warden's mark
In the lid, on the base and on the left bezel


Length: 7.8 cm, Width: 8.3 cm, Height: 4.2 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Christie's, Geneva, 19 November, 1997, lot 257. S.J. Phillips, London.

Descriptive line

Snuffbox, gold, set with diamonds and ten miniatures in watercolour and body colour on vellum, under glass, Geneva, ca.1780

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. 43, p. 72. ISBN.0856675210

Labels and date

1. Snuffbox with rustic scenes, about 1780

Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.362-2008 [16/11/2016]
Snuffbox with rustic scenes
About 1780

Probably Geneva, Switzerland
Gold, silver, diamonds and glazed miniatures
in watercolour on vellum
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.362-2008 [2009]


Gold; Silver; Diamond; Glass


Chasing; Setting; Glazing (glass); Painting (image-making)

Subjects depicted

Cockrel; Dog; Kitchen; Foliage; Swags; Pilasters; Peasants; Scrolls


Containers; Metalwork; Personal accessories


Metalwork Collection

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