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  • Place of origin:

    Paris (mounts, made)
    Sevres (box, made)

  • Date:

    1764-65 (marked)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Sèvres porcelain factory (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Enamelled soft-paste porcelain with chased gold mounts

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.498:1, 2-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 72, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 8, shelf 16 []

Egg-shaped boxes were very popular in the 18th century, especially in England, where they were often made of materials such as gold-mounted agates and enamelled copper. Sèvres porcelain boxes shaped as eggs however appear to be very rare. It is possible that, since this box was exported from France between 1764-5 and 1781-9, shown by the gold marks, it was a special commission for an English customer of the Sèvres factory.

The Sèvres porcelain factory moved from Vincennes in 1756 and in 1759 became a royal manufacturer. After the decline of the Meissen factory, it became the preeminent porcelain manufacturer in Europe.

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 gold-mounted soft-paste porcelain box in the shape of an egg, painted in enamel colours with red oeil de perdrix on a pale blue ground, with flower garland borders, and with a rosette at the top and bottom. The gold mounts are chased with a guilloche and Greek key pattern.

Place of Origin

Paris (mounts, made)
Sevres (box, made)


1764-65 (marked)


Sèvres porcelain factory (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Enamelled soft-paste porcelain with chased gold mounts

Marks and inscriptions

Charge mark of the adjudicataire des fermes générales unies Jean-Jacque Prévost, Paris, November 22, 1762-December 22, 1768
Inside the bezel

Warden's mark for Paris, July 18, 1764-July 21, 1765
Inside the bezel

Discharge mark of Jean-Jacque Prévost, 1762-68
On the bezel

Import mark of the régisseur général des droits de marque Henry Clavel, Paris, April 7, 1781-February 22, 1789
On the bezel

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


Diameter: 4 cm, Height: 6 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Mrs.Elizabeth Parke Firestone, sale, Christie's, New York, November 19, 1982, lot 41. S.J. Phillips, London.

Descriptive line

Louis XVI porcelain and gold snuffbox in the shape of an egg, Paris, Sèvres, 1764-65

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. 21, p. 79. ISBN.0875871623
Zech, Heike. Gold Boxes. Masterpieces from the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection. London: V&A Publishing, 2015, pp. 54-55, no. 12. ISBN 987-1-85177-840-9

Labels and date

16. Box in the shape of an egg

At the French factory in Sèvres, porcelain boxes were only a small part of production. After 1760, hardly any were made as the firm instead concentrated on tableware, making this Sèvres box extremely rare. It might have been made for export since egg-shaped boxes were popular in Britain at the time.

Box: Sèvres, France
Mounts: Paris, France
Soft-paste porcelain, enamel colours and gold [16/11/2016]


Enamel; Gold; Porcelain


Enamelling; Mounting

Subjects depicted

Key pattern; Flower (ornament); Guilloche; Garland; Rosettes


Metalwork; Containers; Personal accessories; Ceramics


Metalwork Collection

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