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Bonbonnière

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1809-1819 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Beltrami, Giovanni (carver)
    Lecoufle, Nicolas (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pierced and chased gold, pearls, turquoise, agate, enamel, glass

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.1040:1, 2-2008

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Eugène de Beauharnais, whose portrait appears on this box, was the stepson of Napoleon Bonaparte through his first wife Josephine. A loyal supporter of his step-father, he took part in a number of notable battles. He was married in 1806 to Augusta Amelia, daughter of the Elector Maximilien III, whom Napoleon elevated to royal status as the first king of Bavaria. For much of his career, Eugène was viceroy of Italy but following the overthrow of Napoleon, he took refuge in Munich where he died at the age of 43.

The cameo was carved by Giovanni Beltrami (1779-1854), trained as a stone-cutter under the renowned Giovanni Pichler. He was famed for feats such as cutting twenty figures on a single stone and producing a miniature version of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper on a topaz. He worked for a number of European monarchs, including the empress of Austria. Eugène de Beauharnais commissioned several portraits from him, one of which is set in this box. Charles Truman has identified the goldsmith as being Nicolas Lecoufle.

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

A circular, jewelled, gold-mounted glass bonbonnière, the gold on the cover, walls and base pierced and chased with stylised foliage and bordered by translucent green enamel. The cover is set with a cameo of Eugene de Beauharnais within a wreath of pearls and turquoise foliage.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)

Date

1809-1819 (made)

Artist/maker

Beltrami, Giovanni (carver)
Lecoufle, Nicolas (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Pierced and chased gold, pearls, turquoise, agate, enamel, glass

Marks and inscriptions

Post-Revolutionary mark of a French goldsmith, with the initials 'N.L', a crown above, a bird below, identified as Nicolas Lecoufle by Charles Truman
On the bezel

Post-Revolutionary unofficial standard mark for 18 carat gold, Paris
On the bezel

Restricted warranty mark for gold, Paris, September 1, 1809-August 15, 1819
On the bezel

Restricted warranty mark for gold, Paris, May 10, 1838, onward
On the bezel

Signed on the truncation of the cameo 'Beltrami'

Dimensions

Height: 3.5 cm, Diameter: 6.5 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Vicomtesse de Marmont. Duc de Draguse. D.S. Lavender, London.

Art of Gem Engraving Exhibition RF: 2008/240

Descriptive line

Gold, pearls, turquoise, agate, enamel, glass, cameo portrait of Eugène de Beauharnais. Paris, cameo: Giovanni Beltrami, 1809-19, box: Nicolas Lecoufle

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

Truman, Charles.The Gilbert collection of gold boxes, Vol. I. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1991, cat. no. 41, pp. 130-1. ISBN.0875871623

Labels and date

1. Bonbonnière with cameo of Eugène de Beauharnais, son of the Empress Joséphine and stepson of Napoleon, 1809–19

Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.1040:1, 2-2008 [16/11/2016]

Production Note

The cameo is by Giovanni Beltrami; the maker of the box is Nicolas Lecoufle (the latter identified by Charles Truman)

Materials

Gold; Pearl; Turquoise; Agate; Enamel; Glass

Techniques

Piercing; Chasing; Setting; Enamelling; Mounting; Setting

Subjects depicted

Stylized foliage; Cameos

Categories

Metalwork; Containers; Personal accessories

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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