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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 72, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries

Snuffbox

1775-1776 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This elegant box is enamelled in translucent red over an engine-turned background. Engine-turning consists of a pattern created with the aid of a machine, rather than using hand-engraving. It can be carried out in straight or curved lines, allowing a variety of patterns to be produced, using straight-line or circular machines. Although the decoration is carried out with a machine, great skill is required from the operator to ensure that pieces are properly aligned and that an equal amount of pressure is applied. The letters 'LM' are probably a later addition.

As with many other boxes by Joseph-Etienne Blerzy, this box is numbered. The significance of these numbers is not yet known as they do not appear to relate to the date of manufacture.

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Enamelled and engine-turned gold set with rose-cut diamonds
Brief Description
Snuffbox with monogram LM in diamonds. Gold, diamonds, enamel. Joseph Etienne-Blerzy, Paris, 1775-76
Physical Description
A rectangular, jewelled and enamelled gold snuff box with canted corners, the walls, cover, and base engine-turned and enamelled in translucent red bordered by opaque white, with enamelled fruiting foliage and pilasters hung with swags. To the white border of the cover is applied an interlaced ribbon of rose diamonds and enamelled fruiting foliage; in the centre of the cover is the monogram LM in rose diamonds within a rose diamond circle.
Dimensions
  • Length: 6.7cm
  • Width: 5.1cm
  • Height: 3.2cm
Gallery Label
1. Snuffbox with monogram LM, 1775–76 Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.1029-2008(16/11/2016)
Credit line
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Object history
Provenance: Max von Goldschmidt-Rothschild, no.405. Rene Fribourg, sale, Sotheby's, lot 296, October 14, 1963. Henry Ford II, sale, Sotheby's, New York, lot. 123, February, 25, 1978. S. J. Phillips, London, 1979.



Concealed Histories:

The V&A is committed to proactive provenance research, which seeks to uncover important information about who owned these pieces before they were acquired by Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert. This research is important because between 1933 and 1945, Jewish collectors in Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe were systematically deprived of their possessions, and their art collections scattered, sold, confiscated or destroyed. Despite significant efforts after the Second World War by the Allies and governments, many of these objects were never restituted. They ended up in public and private collections who often acquired them without knowing their fate during the Nazis years.

As children of Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe, both Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert were acutely aware of Nazi crimes, but even they followed this common practice as they assembled their world-class collection. The information below explains what we know and what we do not yet know about the previous owners of these objects during the Nazi-era.



A successful banker who married into the Rothschild banking dynasty, Maximilian von Goldschmidt-Rothschild was one of the wealthiest individuals in the German Empire. In November 1938, the Nazi mayor of Frankfurt exploited the anti-Semitic violence engulfing the city and forced him to sell his entire art collection to Frankfurt’s museums. After the war, the box was restituted to the family.



This object is part of the ‘Concealed Histories’ display, on until 10 January 2021 and intended to widen our appeal for further information on these objects.
Historical context
Joseph-Etienne Blerzy, one of the most prolific of all French gold box makers, was apprenticed to François-Joachim Aubert on February 27, 1750. After eighteen years he attained the maîtrise on March 12, 1768, with Aubert as his sponsor. His address was in Rue du Grand Hurleur.
Summary
This elegant box is enamelled in translucent red over an engine-turned background. Engine-turning consists of a pattern created with the aid of a machine, rather than using hand-engraving. It can be carried out in straight or curved lines, allowing a variety of patterns to be produced, using straight-line or circular machines. Although the decoration is carried out with a machine, great skill is required from the operator to ensure that pieces are properly aligned and that an equal amount of pressure is applied. The letters 'LM' are probably a later addition.



As with many other boxes by Joseph-Etienne Blerzy, this box is numbered. The significance of these numbers is not yet known as they do not appear to relate to the date of manufacture.



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.
Bibliographic References
  • Habsburg-Lothringen, Géza von. Gold boxes from the collection of Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert. R. & A. Gilbert, 1983. 125 p., ill. Cat no. 48, p. 94. ISBN. 0961039809.
  • Truman, Charles.The Gilbert collection of gold boxes, Vol. I. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) 1991, cat. no. 29, pp. 99-100. ISBN.0875871623
  • Schroder, Timothy. Gold boxes : from the Gilbert collection : an exhibition, Los Angeles : Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 198661
Other Numbers
  • GB 14 - Arthur Gilbert Number
  • 1996.382 - The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House
  • MM 259 - Arthur Gilbert Number
  • 1996.629 - The Gilbert Collection, Somerset House
Collection
Accession Number
LOAN:GILBERT.1029-2008

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record createdJune 19, 2008
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