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  • Notebook
    Neuber, Johann Christian, born 1735 - died 1808
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    Dresden (made)

  • Date:

    1780-1785 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Neuber, Johann Christian, born 1735 - died 1808 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Hardstones, chased and reeded gold, miniature on ivory, silk and paper

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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.

Johann Christian Neuber was the most innovative and talented goldsmith at the Dresden court of Frederick Augustus III, Elector of Saxony (1750–1827). He perfected the technique of hardstone mosaics set in gold mounts for boxes and other luxury objects. His celebrated creations proudly display native stones and were used as diplomatic demonstrations of Saxon wealth.

Physical description

A gold rectangular notebook, each side with hardstone lozenges set within goldwork, later added with two oval, gold framed miniatures: Marie-Antoinette on one side, Louis XVI on the other, both circa 1780. It closes with a gold pencil placed through loops to the right-hand side, the inside has a later red silk lining and contains a later red silk paper notebook.

Place of Origin

Dresden (made)


1780-1785 (made)


Neuber, Johann Christian, born 1735 - died 1808 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Hardstones, chased and reeded gold, miniature on ivory, silk and paper

Marks and inscriptions

Dutch tax mark, after 1831
On mounts


Length: 11.7 cm, Width: 8.5 cm, Depth: 1.35 cm

Object history note

Johann Christian Neuber (1736-1808), Court Jeweller in Dresden, is one of the most celebrated goldsmiths for his most refined hardstone marquetery set in Galantariewaren (useful but precious objects). Neuber was apprenticed to Johann Friedrich Trechaon, a goldsmith of Swedish origin, in 1752 at the age of 17. In 1762 he became master goldsmith and burger of Dresden, succeeding Heinrich Taddel as director of the Grünes Gewölbe, his father-in-law and mentor from whom he
acquired his knowledge and talent for working with hardstones.

Neuber's leading speciality had been the Steinkabinetts-Tabatiere, a snuff box inlaid with as many as 140 different Saxon polished hardstone specimens, numbered to correspond with an often-concealed explanatory booklet ( one being in the permanent collections of the V&A: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O113565/box-neuber-johann-christian/)

Neuber designed a countless number of snuff boxes, each similar yet totally distinct, sometimes centred with an ivory portrait miniature, a Meissen porcelain plaque, or a Roman Micromosaic, the newest and fashionable contemporary invention (see http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O157805/bonbonniere-neuber-johann-christian/)

Neuber’s snuff boxes were used as diplomatic gifts, one of the earliest examples was to the Danish Ambassador Christian Sehestedt Juul (1741-1788) in 1770 (Sotheby’s London, 5 July 2017, lot 30).

Seeking constant innovation and responding to demand from his royal and aristocratic European clientele, Neuber created other types of luxury objects beyond snuff boxes such as cane handles, watch cases, buttons, but also tables and jardinieres on larger scales. Unfortunately, by the end of the 1780s, his over-extended enterprise started to suffer increasingly severe financial problems: business failure finally led to Neuber's retreat from Dresden in 1805 to the house of his son Christian Adolf in Eibenstock where he died on 2nd April 1808.

King Farouk of Egypt.
Sale, Sotheby's, Cairo, The Palace Collections of Egypt, Koubbeh Palace, 18 March 1954, lot 703.
Acquired by Baron de Redé.
Sale, Sotheby's, Monaco, 25-26 May 1975, lot 41.
Acquired by Sir Arthur Gilbert.

Spotlight on Conservation
Johann Christian Neuber was celebrated for his use of exclusively Saxon stones from quarries near Dresden and Chemnitz. He was very ingenious in creating colours to fit his designs when they were not available naturally, sometimes painting them. Here, two lozenges of yellow, striped and transparent agate have been painted on the reverse with vivid green pigments.

At a later date, the notebook cover was slightly altered with the addition of two 18th-century portrait miniatures of King Louis XIV of France and Marie-Antoinette. The gold binding for the two panels has also most likely been replaced, since its colour is yellow while the rest of the mounts are of subtle pink gold, a tell-tale sign of later alterations.

Descriptive line

Hardstones, chased and reeded gold, Dresden, about 1780-85, by Johann Christian Neuber, later miniatures on ivory, later silk and paper notebook.

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

Massinelli, Anna Maria with contributions by Jeanette Hanisee Gabriel. Hardstones: The Gilbert Collection. London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd. in association with The Gilbert Collection, 2000, 329 p., ill. Cat. no. 86, p. 200. ISBN 0856675105.
Coffin, Sarah and Bodo Hofstetter. Portrait Miniatures in Enamel. London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd. in association with the Gilbert Collection, 2000. 168 p., ill. Cat. no. 87, pp. 135-136. ISBN 0856675334.
Koeppe, Wolfram and Annamaria Giusti.with contributions by Cristina Acidini ... [et al.] ; edited by Wolfram Koeppe. Art of the Royal Court : Treasures in Pietre Dure from the Palaces of Europe. New York : Metropolitan Museum of Art ; New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, c2008. Pp. 265-6, cat. no. 92.
Wheeler, Daniel, ed. with introduction by Alexis Gregory. Princely Taste: Treasures from Great Private Collections. Exhibition catalogue, Jerusalem: Israel Museum, vol. 369, 1995, p. 75.
Williams, Elizabeth A. The Gilbert Collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), 2010, fig. 32, p. 62. ISBN 9780875872100
Kugel, Alexis. Gold, Jasper and Carnelian: Johann Christian Neuber at the Saxon Court. London: Paul Holberton Publishing, 2012, fig. 199, p.371.


Hardstone; Gold; Silk; Enamel; Ivory; Rock crystal; Agate; Jasper; Paper


Chasing; Enamelling


Metalwork; Personal accessories


Metalwork Collection

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